How Long Past FRA Can You Wait To File A Restricted Application For Spousal Benefits?

May 13 2019 - 3:35pm

Hi Larry. Thanks for so much excellent information. Everyone asks about when, meaning for the most part how soon, they can file a restricted application for spousal benefits. How long past FRA can you wait? I am born before January 1, 1954 and will be at FRA in September, 2019. My wife was born two months before me making her FRA in July of 2019. Neither of us have filed for SS benefits as yet. How long after our birth months can we wait to file for full benefits for one of us and spousal benefits for the other. My wife's benefits may be slighter higher than mine at FRA but less than $100 difference. I'm thinking of filing for full benefit with my wife taking spousal only until age 70 then filing for her benefits to assure she has the highest possible benefit after my passing. I'm assuming I will die first being male, we're both in pretty good health. Could I wait until say January, 2020 to file with my wife filing for spousal benefits on my claim in February, 2020? Could we wait longer, say until September of 2020 for my full benefit filing and my wife filing for spousal a month later? I'm going to get your software, sounds like a bargain but I don't know if such issues will be addressed as most people don't seem to be asking how long they can wait. Thanks so much for your response. Allen

Hi Allen,

Since you were born prior to January 2 1954 you could file a restricted application for just spousal benefits only effective with any month starting with the month you reach full retirement age (FRA). There is no limit on how long after that you could file, although you couldn't claim benefits retroactively for more than a maximum of 6 months prior to the month in which you apply. And, you can't claim spousal benefits effective with any month prior to the first month that your spouse becomes entitled to (i.e. applies and is approved for) their Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Therefore, yes you could file for your retirement benefits effective with January 2020 or September 2020 and your wife could file for spousal benefits a month later, but she'd almost certainly want to start the spousal benefits effective with your first month of entitlement instead. Spousal benefits don't grow higher if you wait past FRA to claim them.

You and your wife should strongly consider using our software to fully explore and compare all of your various options in order to determine the filing strategy that would likely be optimal for both of you in the long run.

Best, Jerry