If My Wife Files For Her Own Benefits At Age 62 Will Her Subsequent Spousal Amount Also Be Reduced?

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Jan 8 2019 - 10:04am

I am 63 and plan to wait until 70 to file for social security benefits. My wife just turned 62 and has a projected full benefit that is less than half of mine. If she files now to take her reduced benefits, when I turn 70 can she get her full spousal benefit or will it also be reduced?

Details: My projected PIA is about $2500; my wife's is about $1000. My projected benefits at 70 should be around $3200. As I understand it, my wife's spousal benefit should be about half my PIA, i.e., about $1250. But will that $1250 be reduced if she takes her own benefits early, at 62, but does not start taking her spousal benefit until I turn 70, when she will be 68 years, 8 months? AND, when I pass, will her widow benefit be reduced? or my full $3200 (or whatever it turns out to be if I wait until 70 to start my benefits)?

Hi,

If your wife files for her own retirement benefits at age 62, her retirement benefit rate would be permanently reduced by roughly 27%. If she later qualifies for additional spousal benefits on your account those benefits would not be reduced if she becomes eligible after reaching her full retirement age (FRA), but nonetheless she'd keep the reduction that she took in order to start drawing her own benefits early.

For example, say June starts drawing her retirement benefits at age 62. June's full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA), would be $1000, but she receives a reduced rate of $730. June's husband files for his benefits after June reaches FRA, and his PIA is $2500. June's unreduced spousal benefit would be calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her husband's PIA, which in this case would amount to $250 (i.e. $2500/2 - $1000). That partial spousal benefit would then be added to June's reduced retirement rate of $730 to give her a combined benefit amount of $980.

I should add, though, that any reduction applied to your wife's retirement or spousal benefits wouldn't carry over to her survivor benefit rate if you die before her. If you wait until age 70 to start drawing and subsequently die before your wife, she would draw your full age 70 rate as a survivor. She wouldn't get both your rate and her own retirement rate, though, just the higher of the two.

You and your wife should strongly consider using our software to explore and compare your options so that you can be sure to choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry