Do I Need To File An Application To Switch To Drawing My Own Benefits, And If So When Should I Apply?

Sep 12 2020 - 10:36am

When I turned full retirement age 66 (I was born in 1952), my wife filed for her benefit at age 64 1/2 and I filed a restricted application and took 1/2 of her full retirement age benefit.I will turn 70 in a little over 2 years but I'm wondering when I should apply for my benefit in order to take it as close to age 70 as possible. Do I need to apply for it 3 months prior to my 70th Birthday or can I just wait and it will automatically switch me over to my benefit? I don't want to start it before I turn 70 but I also don't want to lose a month of benefits for filing too late after turning 70. The difference in my age 70 benefit and my spousal benefit is going to be over $2000. Thanks for your help on this. I'm hoping all SS Offices are open by then but I'm hoping to file the switch to my benefit online.

Also I heard that when you file a restricted application and sign up for Medicare to be taken out of your spousal benefit that you are assigned a Medicare number. I heard somewhere that number is supposed to change when you switch to your own benefits so you need a new Medicare card with the new number or your claims will be denied by Medicare. Also the new benefit will be sent on the day of the month that Correlates to my Birthday instead of the date based on my spouses Birthday which it is sent on now. Can you verify this? Thanks


You definitely will need to file an application in order to switch to drawing your own Social Security retirement benefits. When you filed for spousal benefits you restricted retirement benefits from the scope of your application, meaning that you haven't yet applied for your own benefits. Therefore, you couldn't be switched to drawing on your own record automatically.

If you want to start drawing your own benefits effective with the month you reach age 70, you can file as early as 4 months prior to that month or as late as 6 months after that month. If you file your application 2 to 3 months prior to the month you reach age 70, that should give Social Security enough time to process the switchover in your benefits in a timely manner. But, since you can claim benefits up to 6 months retroactively, you won't lose any benefits unless you apply more than 6 months after the month you turn age 70.

I can verify that your regular payment date could change to another day of the month when you start drawing your own benefits, but I'm not sure if your Medicare number will change or not. Back when Medicare numbers correlated with an individual's Social Security number, Medicare numbers did change if a person started out drawing spousal benefits and later started drawing their own benefits. However, I'm not sure if that's still the case now that Medicare numbers aren't based on Social Security numbers.

As for payment dates, people who filed for benefits prior to May 1997 can continue to be paid on the 3rd day of the month. But for people who file after April 1997, their regular payment date is determined based on the day of birth of the worker on whose record the benefit is paid. If the worker was born in the first 10 days of a month, benefits are paid on the second Wednesday of the month. If the worker was born from the 11th to 20th day of a month, benefits are paid on the third Wednesday of the month. And, if the worker was born after the 20th of a month, benefits are paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month. So, depending on your and your wife's birth days, your payment date may change when you start drawing your own benefits.

Best, Jerry