Why Did My Wife Receive A Letter From Social Security When Only I Filed For Benefits?

Feb 24 2018 - 5:06pm

Hi Larry,

I filed an application online for myself on February 6, 2018 for my own Social Security benefits to begin in April 2018 on my 70th birthday. My spouse has not yet filed for Social Security benefits. Everything seemed ok until today when I received a letter addressed to me from Social Security Admin in Boston, MA dated February 14, 2018 that had the following, "We are writing to tell you that your spouse filed an application for Social Security benefits on February 6, 2018. Social Security considers an application for Social Security benefits to be a request for benefits for his/her spouse. You are not required to file for benefits at this time. If you file for benefits within 6 months of the date of this letter, we will use February 6, 2018 as the filing date for your claim. You should get in touch with us right away because the date you file an application can make a difference in the amount of benefits we can pay. Call or visit any Social Security office. We will help you fill out the application for Social Security benefits."

I have two questions: (1) Why did I get this letter when I am the one filing for Social Security benefits but my wife has not filed yet? (2) My wife plans to file a restricted application for spousal benefits only when she reaches her full retirement age of 66 on her birthday in August 2018. We definitely do not want Social Security to use February 6, 2018 as the filing date of her claim since she would not have reached her full retirement age yet. What is our best course of action in this case.

Thanks for your articles and your book. They have been very helpful.



Hi Aubrey,

You can simply disregard that letter. The letter is what's called a close-out notice, and what it's closing out is the protective filing date that you established for your wife simply by listing her on your application (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204012#c2). You didn't do anything wrong, and your wife is not required to file a claim or use the protective filing date when she does file. No action is required in response to the letter.

Best, Jerry