If I Start Drawing At Age 62 Can My Wife Still Get 50% Of My Full Retirement Age Rate If She Files At Her Full Retirement Age?

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Jan 29 2019 - 3:51pm

Hello. My wife and I will soon be 62. I plan on taking the early SS benefit at that time. (my benefit is $2000 at 62, $2800 at full age)
We are trying to decide if my wife should wait until her full age. Her benefit is $700 at 62, $950 at full age. If she waits till full age will she be eligible for 50% of what my full benefit would have been ($2800) which would be $1400 for her. Or did that change since I took my benefit early. There seems to be conflicting info on this on the internet. Thank you.

Hi,

Yes, if your wife waits until her full retirement age (FRA) to start drawing benefits, she'd get a total benefit rate equal to 50% of your full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA). That's true regardless of when you start drawing your benefits, although you'd have to be drawing your benefits in order for your wife to qualify for spousal benefits.

Using your figures and assuming that you follow through with your plan to file at age 62, if your wife files at FRA she would get a combined benefit rate consisting of her own full retirement benefit of $950 plus an excess spousal benefit of $450. That would add up to 50% of your $2800 PIA. However, if she starts drawing before FRA, both of those amounts would be reduced for age. It doesn't sound like your wife should wait past FRA to start drawing, though, since 50% of your PIA is apparently higher than her own retirement rate would be even if she waited until age 70 to start drawing.

Just so you're aware, if you do start drawing your benefits at age 62 not only would you receive a permanently reduced benefit rate, your wife would also be stuck with a reduced widow's rate should you die before her. When a worker starts drawing their Social Security retirement benefits prior to FRA, their widow's survivor rate is limited to no more than the higher of a) the deceased worker's reduced benefit rate or b) 82.5% of the worker's PIA.

You and your wife should strongly consider using our software to fully explore and compare all of your filing options before you decide on when to start drawing your benefits.

Best, Jerry