Ask Larry

Was I Forced To File For Reduced Spousal Benefits Due To Deeming?

Hi, my husband was born in January1950 and I was born in September 1956. When my husband turned 70 and applied for Social Security I was forced to apply for reduced spousal benefit because I was 63. Is it because of deeming? I will have enough credits on my record when I turn 66. When is the best time to apply on my record? Can I increase the amount if I wait until 70. I think deeming is very unfair because it’s permanently reduced. Thank you! Where can I read your answers?

Hi. The only way that deeming could have forced you to apply for reduced spousal benefits is if you had already applied for your own Social Security retirement benefits. If you hadn't yet applied for your own benefits when your husband applied for his benefits, then you would not have been required to apply for reduced spousal benefits.

Furthermore, since you were born after January 1 1954, you wouldn't be allowed to file just for spousal benefits while waiting until later to claim your own benefits ( So, when you applied for reduced spousal benefits, that application was also deemed to be an application for your own retirement benefits. Therefore, if you have enough work credits to qualify for benefits on your own account then you should already be drawing those benefits.

When you applied for reduced spousal benefits, if you were insured for benefits based on your own account then you should have been forced to apply for both benefits at the same time. And, you would then only be eligible for essentially the higher of the 2 benefit rates. But, if you weren't eligible for retirement benefits when you applied for spousal benefits then you'd be deemed to have applied for your retirement benefits effective with the first month that you have 40 quarters of Social Security coverage (QC). You couldn't choose to wait beyond then to claim your own benefits.

If you weren't insured for your own benefits when you applied for spousal benefits and if you haven't yet applied for your own benefits, then you would be able to withdraw your spousal application and apply later for unreduced benefits. However, you'd have to repay all of the benefits you've received so far in order to be allowed to withdraw your application.

Since it not clear from the information in your question exactly what options you have available, I would suggest that you call Social Security and ask to speak with a Social Security claims representative or technical expert.

Best, Jerry

Mar 3 2022 - 9:41am
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