Shouldn't My Spousal Benefit Be One-Half Of My Husband's Benefit?

Category: 
Jul 4 2016 - 4:00pm

I hope you have time to answer an email. My husband retired and started SS at 66 then went back to work part time a year later ( he is now 69). I retired and started spousal benefits at 66 (I'm now 67). Subsequently, SS has increased his monthly earnings because of recalculation that replaced lower earning years, however, my spousal has not increased to match 1/2 of his current monthly. Your Dec. 2014 Forbes article seemed to indicate my
spousal should increase. I had a lengthy phone call with SS while the reps tried to find rules to cover this situation, with no luck. Their consensus
seemed to be that the spousal would be set based on my husband's original PIA at retirement. I am not satisfied with the answer and wondered if you would mind referencing the SS rule applying to this situation.
I appreciate your time.
Thank you,

Sandra Palmer

Hi Sandra,

Your full spousal benefit should equal one-half of your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA). Here is a reference from Social Security's operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202020
The PIA is basically the full retirement age benefit, but can be increased due to earnings after full retirement age. If your husband's PIA increased as a result of additional earnings, your spousal benefit should have increased accordingly.

It can be difficult to determine if the amount you're getting is correct due to withholdings for things such as Medicare premiums and taxes, as well as dollar down rounding. However, if both you and your husband started drawing benefits effective with the respective months that you each turned age 66, your spousal benefit should equal one-half of his benefit amount before rounding and withholdings are applied. If you still believe you are getting the wrong amount, you should check back with Social Security.

Best, Jerry