Ask Larry

How Would Deeming Work In Our Case?

My fiance is divorced and is 60 years old. I am currently 57 and my wife had died when I was 55 so I will be waiting at least 3 years before getting married so I can lock in my survivors benefits.
My fiance was married to her husband for 25 years and he is 54 years old If she filed for social security at age 62 can you explain how would deeming work? I understand from your book that with deeming if she filed for her social security she would also be deemed to collect her husbands social security benefits, but I don't understand how the deeming would work since his is not yet 62 so she would not be eligible to collect his social security yet.

Also, assuming she files for her social security benefits before we get married, how would deeming work for us? I plan to wait to 70 to collect my social security benefits, if she files for her social security before we get married I am assuming that deeming would not apply, or would they consider us deemed when we got married since she was already taking benefits?

Thanks for listening and for writing your book on social security it is a great resource.

Hi Craig,

There are a lot of what if's in your questions. Simply, since both you and your fiancée were born after January 1 1954, if and when you file for either Social Security retirement, spousal or divorced spousal benefits, you'll be deemed to be filing for any and all of those benefits. If you're only entitled to one of those benefits when you apply, you would be considered to have applied for the other benefits as soon as you first become eligible for those benefits. However, deeming does not apply to survivor benefits, so you could potentially file for survivor or retirement benefits in the future without being deemed to have applied for the other benefit.

Your fiancée couldn't qualify for divorced spousal benefits at least until her ex-husband reaches age 62, unless he qualifies for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits before then. If your fiancée files for her own Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 and if you subsequently marry, she couldn't qualify for divorced spousal benefits as long as her ex-spouse is still living. Your fiancée could potentially qualify for an excess spousal benefit in addition to her own benefits if you marry, but not until you start drawing your benefits. If your fiancée files for her own benefits prior to her full retirement age (FRA), though, she'll be stuck with the resulting reduction for age to her benefit rate for as long as both of you are living.

For example, say Amy files for her benefits at age 62. Amy's primary insurance amount (PIA), or full retirement age rate, would be $800, but Amy's rate is reduced for age to $570. After Amy has reached her FRA, her husband applies for his benefits. Amy's husband's PIA is $2000, so Amy's unreduced excess spousal rate is calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her husband's PIA. In Amy's case, that amounts to $200 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800). Amy's unreduced excess spousal rate would then be paid in addition to her own reduced rate of $570 to give her a combined benefit rate of $770 (i.e. $570 + $200).

It sounds like you and your fiancée should strongly consider using our software ( to fully analyze the options available to you in order to determine your best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry

Sep 16 2020 - 3:07pm
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.