Could I Apply For Spousal Benefits Now While My Wife Defers Collecting Her SS Until Age 70?

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Feb 9 2019 - 2:17pm

Hi Larry,
I am 70 and my wife is 68. We both came from Germany 13 years ago and are now US citizens. We both receive social security from Germany, We both have all the credits for SS in the US. My wife intents to work until 70. My social security in the US would be approx. $500,00 and my wife's $1100,00 as of today. The windfall elimination applies to both of us, reducing my SS to $100,00 and my wife's to $700.00. My question: could I apply for spousal benefits on my wife's SS now and collect the $700.00 and she defers collecting her SS until age 70? would this influence the amount she collects at 70 or would it still increase until she actually collects her SS? Could I then switch to mine when she collects hers at 70? thank you.. very confusing

Hi,

No. Your wife must be drawing her Social Security benefits in order for you to qualify for spousal benefits. So, there's no way that you could draw spousal benefits while your wife continues to let her benefit rate grow until age 70. What you could potentially do, though, is file for your own Social Security retirement benefits now, and then file for additional spousal benefits when your wife applies for her benefits.

For example, say Bob files for his Social Security retirement benefits at age 68. Bob's monthly benefit rate including delayed retirement credits (DRC) is $100. Bob's wife hasn't filed for her Social Security benefits yet, so Bob wouldn't currently be eligible for any spousal benefits. Two years later Bob's wife files for her Social Security retirement benefits at age 70. Bob's wife's primary insurance amount (PIA) is $530, but since she waited until age 70 to start receiving her benefits, DRCs would add 32% to her PIA to give her a monthly benefit rate of $700.

When Bob's wife files for her benefits Bob applies for spousal benefits. Bob's spousal rate would be calculated by subtracting his benefit rate, inclusive of the DRCs he earned by waiting past full retirement age to claim his benefits, from 50% of his wife's PIA (not her age 70 rate). Therefore, in this example Bob would be eligible for an excess spousal benefit of $165 (i.e. $530/2 - $100). That amount would then be added to his own $100 monthly benefit to give him a combined rate of $265 (i.e. 50% of his wife's PIA).

You and your wife should strongly consider using our software to compare all of your filing options in order to determine your best overall filing strategy. Our software is fully programmed to handle calculations involving the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Best, Jerry