What Terminology Does My Wife Use To Apply For Spousal Benefits Only?

Aug 26 2019 - 5:31pm

To Whom It May Concern:
I just turned 70 this summer and will start getting my SS benefits shortly. My wife was born in 1953 and will turn 66 (= her FRA) early next month. We have an appointment with the local Social Security office tomorrow (8/27/19). We believe that my wife’s own earned SS benefits will exceed her spousal benefits if she defers getting her own benefits until age 70 (but not initially). My main question is: what is the correct terminology to use with the SS office to have them activate her SPOUSAL benefits at FRA (66), while NOT activating her own benefits (until age 70)? I believe her 1953 birthday allows her to do that. Is there any way we can subsequently verify that they have done as we requested (i.e. giving her spousal benefits at FRA without activating her own earned benefits)? Thank you.

Hi,

Yes, since your wife was born prior to January 2 1954 she can opt to file for spousal benefits at full retirement age (FRA) or later without being deemed to have also applied for her own Social Security retirement benefits. However, your wife can't qualify for spousal benefits any earlier than your first month of entitlement to your retirement benefits, and she can't be paid spousal benefits for any months that your benefits are voluntarily suspended. Assuming that's what your wife wants to do, when she speaks with Social Security she needs to stress to them that she wants to file a restricted application for spousal benefits ONLY. She'll want to closely review her copy of her application form to make sure that it includes a statement restricting her own retirement benefits from the scope of the application.

Your wife should receive an award letter when Social Security is finished processing her claim that should state that she's being awarded spouse's benefits, not retirement benefits on her own record. She will then need to file a separate application when and if she subsequently wants to claim her own retirement benefits, presumably at age 70. Your wife may want to consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully compare all of her options in order to identify the precise best strategy for claiming her benefits.

Best, Jerry