Will My Spousal Benefit Be Based On My Age At The Time My Husband Files?

Jul 11 2019 - 4:31pm

The changes to SSA apply to this question as I was born in 1956. I began receiving early SS retirement benefits at age 62. I know my benefit is already permanently reduced. My husband is one year older than I am and hopes to begin receiving benefits at his FRA of 66 yrs & 2 mos. If I am correct in understanding that I will be deemed as filing for spousal benefits once he files, I'd like to know how my spousal benefit will be calculated once my husband files. Does the date of my early retirement affect my spousal benefit, or does my age at the time my husband files determine the spousal benefit?
Thank you,

Hi Gail,

Yes, you're correct that if you qualify for spousal benefits when your husband files for his benefits then you will be deemed to have filed for spousal benefits effective with his first month of entitlement to benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). You will only qualify for additional spousal benefits if 50% of your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA), which is the amount of a person's Social Security retirement benefit if they start drawing at full retirement age (FRA), is more than your own PIA. If it is, any reduction for age applicable to your spousal rate will be calculated based on your age at the time you become eligible for the spousal benefit.

For example, say Jane (DOB 1/15/1956) filed for her Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. Jane's PIA was $800, but her benefit rate was reduced by 26.25% to $590 in return for starting her benefits at age 62. Jane's husband files for his Social Security retirement benefits 12 months prior to Jane's FRA, and his PIA is $2000. Jane's unreduced spousal rate would be calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her husband's PIA, which in this case is $200. However, since Jane is deemed to have filed for spousal 12 months prior to FRA, her benefit rate would be reduced by 8.33% to $183. That would then be added to Jane's own reduced retirement benefit to give her a combined rate of $773.

Best, Jerry