Shouldn't I Be Able To Draw Spousal Benefits While My Own Benefits Are Suspended?

Category: 
Dec 1 2019 - 5:37pm

I am 66 (Birthdate 1953) and took reduced social security benefits at 62 (in 2015). I went back to work at 64 (in 2017) in August. I knew I would surpass the earnings limit with my new salary, so I called SSA in August and let them know so that my social security payments should be stopped / withheld (suspended?) , starting August. When I turned 66 (2019), I called SSA and asked for my SS Benefit to continue to be suspended, as I do not want to start drawing until I retire again in 2-3 years. I was told my account would be in "voluntery suspension". My husband is 71 -- he retired at age 62 and started drawing SSA reduced benefit at 62 and is still drawing the reduced benefit. I recently went to SSA office to see if I could draw a spousal benefit on my husband, by restricting my application to start benefits again to spousal only. 1/2 of his FRA would be 1085/month, but I know it would be less because I started benefits at 62. However, I was told at the SSA office, that I cannot draw a spousal benefit, as I am currently drawing delayed retirement benefits. Also because I started drawing at 62 and therefore I would not be able to draw a spousal benefit regardless. Is this information correct? It seems I should be able to begin my benefit again, but file a restricted application and draw a percentage of my husband's FRA? Thank you for your consideration of this question.

Hi,

It sounds like what you were told by Social Security is correct. Filing a restricted application for only spousal benefits means that you're excluding your own retirement benefits from the scope of your application. In other words, you're delaying the filing of an application for your own benefits. That option is no longer possible to you because you've already applied for your own benefits, even if your own benefits have been voluntarily suspended.

Since you were born prior to January 2 1954, if you hadn't filed for your own benefits previously you could have filed a restricted application just for spousal benefits when you reached full retirement age (FRA). You could then have drawn spousal benefits while waiting until up to age 70 to apply for your own benefits, but you can no longer do that because you've already filed for your own benefits.

The only way that you could now qualify for spousal benefits is if your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA) is more than twice as much as your PIA. A person's PIA is equal to the amount of their Social Security retirement benefit if they start drawing at FRA. If half of your husband's PIA is more than your PIA you could file for an excess spousal benefit equal to the difference between those 2 amounts, but even if you do qualify for an excess spousal benefit Social Security won't pay you that benefit while your own benefits are suspended (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/claiming.html?intcmp=AE-RET-PLRT-REL...).

Best, Jerry