How Soon Must My Wife File Before I Turn FRA?

Sep 16 2019 - 4:52pm

I turn 66 Dec 2nd 2019 and qualify for a spousal benefit since I was born Dec 2nd 1953..I understand my wife born Jan 2nd 1956 must file before me. Its Sept 16th 2019 now. How soon must my wife apply for her SS before I turn FRA Dec 2nd 2019? Can she suspend her SS after I file for a Restricted application one i get my spousal benefit? We are 65 and 63 years old now and both still working. Problem is we will have a tax issue unless my wife retires soon after she files. Thanks for your help!

Hi,

You couldn't file for spousal benefits before your wife files for her Social Security retirement benefits, but you could both apply at the same time. Social Security allows you to file an application up to 4 months prior to the month that you want to claim benefits. Since you were born prior to January 2 1954 you can file just for spousal benefits while letting your own retirement benefit rate grow until you reach age 70, but only if you elect to start drawing the spousal benefits effective with the month you reach full retirement age (FRA) or later.

Your wife must actually be drawing her benefits in order for you to be paid spousal benefits, so you couldn't draw spousal benefits if she suspends her benefits. In any case, though, she couldn't voluntarily suspend her benefits until she reaches her FRA.

You say that your wife is still working, which could be an issue for you. Both your wife's retirement benefits and your spousal benefits would potentially be subject to full or partial withholding until she reaches FRA depending on how much she earns. In 2019, $1 of benefits would have to be withheld for each $2 that your wife earns in excess of $17,640, although there is an alternate monthly test that could be used in the first calendar year of her entitlement to benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/rule.html).

It sounds like you and your wife should strongly consider using one of our software programs (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully explore and compare your various options so that you can determine your optimal strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry