When Can I File For Benefits, And What Benefits Will I Receive?

Dec 27 2016 - 4:45pm

I was born 7/13/57 & my ex of 12 years marriage was born 8-2-58. He makes substantially more than I do so eventually I will want to file on his earnings record. However, I'm wanting to file early at 62 or 63 I'm assuming because he's younger.

We are on speaking terms so he did go through the S.S. system and calculated that his benefits looked to be approximately $2400 a month. (He earns $200,00+ annually)

I'm trying to determine my best strategy for receiving maximum benefits. I do work in a part-time job now making on average $17,000 gross per year supplemented by savings. I'm borderline disabled but don't want to mess with SSDI.

Must I wait until 63 1/2 to file on his record assuming he won't be filing and suspending and will I even be eligible for those benefits if he hasn't reached FRA?!

Also, is there any option in this scenario to receive early/reduced benefits from his record and then file on my own at 70! I'm assuming that his benefit will always far exceed mine but I'm obviously wanting to maximize my benefits. I intend to continue working as as long as they'll have me as I enjoy my job. Just needing a supplement!

Will I ever receive a combination of mine and his or must I receive one or the other, whichever is higher?!

Thank you for your time.


Since you were born after January 1 1954, whenever you file for either divorced spousal benefits or retirement benefits on your own record, you'll be deemed to have filed for both benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). Therefore, you can't start just divorced spousal benefits and let your own benefits grow until age 70.

You can file for benefits on your own record as early as age 62, but they'll be reduced by around 27% if you start them then instead of at full retirement age. You can't be eligible for divorced spousal benefits until your ex-spouse reaches age 62. If you've already filed on your own record before then, you'll be deemed to file for divorced spousal benefits as soon as he turns 62, and that benefit (if any) will also be reduced by around 27%.

If your own full retirement age rate is more than 50% of your ex-husband's full retirement age rate, you won't be eligible for divorced spousal benefits. If your own full retirement age benefit rate is less than 50% of your ex's full retirement age rate, you would receive your own benefit, plus an excess divorced spousal benefit.

Here's an example. Say your full retirement age rate is $1000, but you start drawing at age 62 so your rate is reduced to $729. Then say your ex-husband's full retirement age rate is $2400. When he turns 62, you'd be deemed to file for divorced spousal benefits. The unreduced rate would be half of his full rate minus your own full rate, or $200 (i.e. $1200 - $1000). But, your rate would be reduced for age to around $145. The $145 would then be added to your own benefit of $729, to make your total benefit $874. In this same example, had you waited until full retirement age (66 1/2 in your case) to start both benefits, you'd receive $1200 monthly, or half of your ex-husband's full rate.

Also, if you start benefits before full retirement age, there is an earnings test that may result in the withholding of some of your benefits. For more information on the Social Security earnings test, see this reference: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html.

Best, Jerry