Was The Information I Received From Social Security Correct?

Feb 15 2018 - 9:37am

I was born in May, 1952 and my ex-husband in September, 1952. We were married for 31 years and have been divorced for 5. I am still working, I do not know if he still is. As I will be 66 this year I would like to claim on his record and continue to work until I am 68 or so (as I am in my highest earning years) and I need to pay off my mortgage. Then when I retire, I would claim on my record which by then should exceed my ex husband's.

This week I went to a local social security office and asked about this and how to do it. I was told you can't claim on his record until he turns 66 and asked why don't I claim on mine? I think that this information is incorrect. Is there any penalty or benefit to me for waiting to put in a claim on his record? Why are they encouraging me to claim early on my record - other than all the benefits of waiting which you explain in your columns? Thanks, Nancy

Hi Nancy,

Your ex-husband only needs to be at least age 62, not 66, in order for you to be able to qualify for divorced spousal benefits. Assuming that your birthday is not on the 1st of May (in which case your full retirement age would be April), it sounds like your best strategy would likely be to file a restricted application for just divorced spousal benefits only effective with May 2018, then file on your own record at age 70. Your own retirement rate will continue to climb by at least 8% per year until age 70 as long as you don't claim your retirement benefits before then. You may want to consider using our maximization software to make sure that you choose the best possible filing strategy.

I don't know why the Social Security representative you spoke with gave you incorrect information, although I assume it's simply a lack of adequate training. You may want to print out and show them section B.2. of the following reference from Social Security's operations manual if you re-visit the office: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202005.

Best, Jerry