If My Wife Starts Collecting Her Benefits At Age 62 Will Her Rate Change To Half Of Mine When I File For My Benefits?

Nov 9 2019 - 10:03am

I just turned 64 (Sept), most years exceeded the SS maximum salry, and plan to wait until 70 to start collecting Social Security. My wife will be 62 is April and was for the most part a stay at home mother. She did work enough that her April 2020 SS will be around $725/mo. My plan is to have her start collecting at 62. When I turn 70, she will be 66 yrs, 5 mo. At that point, will her SS change to be 1/2 of mine? Thank you


No, it won't, but that seems to be a common misconception. Unreduced spousal benefits are calculated based on 50% of their spouse's primary insurance amount (PIA), but if the person claiming spousal benefits is drawing their own Social Security benefits then those benefits are independently calculated. And, any reduction for age applicable to the person's own Social Security retirement benefit rate continues even if they later become eligible for a higher spousal rate. A person's PIA, by the way, is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing at full retirement age (FRA).

For example, say Leah files for her own benefits at age 62. Leah's FRA rate or primary insurance amount (PIA) is $1000, but she receives a reduced rate of $720 in return for starting her benefits early. Eight years later, Leah's husband files for his benefits with a PIA of $2600. Leah's spousal benefit would then be $300, or 50% of her husband's PIA minus Leah's own PIA (i.e. $2600/2 - $1000), which would be unreduced since Leah has already reached FRA when she becomes eligible for spousal benefits. Leah's excess spousal rate would then be paid in addition to her reduced retirement benefit to give her a combined benefit amount of $1020. In other words, rather than getting a full 50% of her husband's PIA Leah would get $280 less than that amount because she started drawing her own benefits at age 62.

You and your wife may want to strongly consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to explore and compare all of your various options in order to determine your best overall strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry