Ask Larry

How Should My Wife Answer These Application Questions?

Hi Larry,
Your book and articles are very helpful. My wife will reach her FRA at end of August this year and would like to start her benefits first, and then switch to spousal benefits next year when my benefits start. Watching the YouTube on filing SSA online, there are a couple of questions.
1. Under the benefits section, there is a question “Have you previously applied for Medicare, Social Security Benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits? “
My wife had already started her Medicare last year, does she answer “Yes” to this question?
2. Under the When to Start Benefits section, there is a question “If you are eligible for both retirements and spouse’s benefit, do you want to delay receipt of retirement benefit?”
I would like her to start her own benefits first, and then switch to my benefits next year; do we answer “No” for this case?
One last thing; assume she gets approved to start her own benefits this year, how does she switch to spousal benefits next year? Does she need to apply online again?
Thanks in advance, and I appreciate your help.

Hi. Yes, if your wife has previously applied for Medicare then she'd answer 'yes' to the question about prior applications. And, since your wife will be claiming her own benefits she would answer 'no' to the question asking if she wants to delay her benefits.

Your wife will need to file another application for spousal benefits when you apply for your benefits. She can't actually switch to spousal benefits, though. Instead, she can potentially claim a partial, or excess, spousal benefit to be paid in addition to her own benefit. Your wife's excess spousal benefit will be calculated by subtracting her own primary insurance amount (PIA) from 50% of your PIA.

You and your wife may want to strongly consider using our software ( to fully analyze all of your options so that you can determine the best overall strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry

May 5 2022 - 6:43pm
MaxiFi software running on a laptop
Get What's Yours!
Discover tens of thousands in extra retirement dollars with Maximize My Social Security software!
  • Find your maximized strategy
  • Unlimited what-ifs
  • Step-by-Step filing instructions
  • Our software's lifetime-benefit increase for an illustrative couple earning $65K each and planning to take retirement benefits at 62.

    Results will differ based on your specific case and filing strategy.

Getting Started is Easy
Web-based software. Works on ALL browsers. No download.