Ask Larry

Is It Correct That My Spousal Benefits Are Limited By The Family Maximum?

Restricted application for spousal benefits on spouse who is 62 on SSDI. I was born in 1953. Social Security says my spousal benefits is limited due to the family maximum although we have no dependents. Is this corrected. My spouse collects 940.00 and I thought will receive 50% of her benefits. Instead I am only receiving 51.00 a month. I did collected spousal benefits from a previous marriage and received 50% and no family maximum was applied. Since I remarried, this has stopped and I waited for 1 year before applying a restricted application for my new spouse. But now the family maximum applies. Any thoughts?

Hi. Yes. A different family maximum benefit formula is used when the worker is collecting Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits rather than Social Security retirement benefits. Basically, the FMB on SSDI records is limited to the LOWER of 150% of the worker's primary insurance amount (PIA), or 85% of the worker's average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615742).

Since your wife's SSDI benefit is relatively low, 85% of her AIME is less than 150% of her PIA, which is why you aren't being paid a full 50% of your wife's PIA. What your wife could do, though, is file for reduced retirement benefits and opt to collect those benefits instead of SSDI. That would allow you to be paid a spousal rate equal to a full 50% of your wife's PIA, but your wife's benefit rate would then be reduced for age until she reaches full retirement age (FRA). You and your wife should probably call Social Security to discuss your options.

Best, Jerry

Posted: 
Nov 25 2021 - 7:16pm
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