Will My Spousal Benefits Be Reduced For Age If I Previously Received Reduced Divorced Spousal Benefits?

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Jul 13 2018 - 7:01am

This question is about how social security applies the early retirement reductions in the case of a re-marriage. I began claiming at 62 and am collecting both my own and a divorced spouse retirement benefit, both of which were reduced for claiming early at 62. I am now at full retirement age (66) and looking to get married. After I have been married for 1 year and I apply for spousal benefits from my new spouse who is 69, are these benefits reduced as well because I started initially receiving benefits at 62?

Hi,

No, if you remarry and qualify for spousal benefits on your new spouse's record, those benefits will not be reduced for age if you start drawing them at your full retirement age (FRA) or later regardless of the fact that you began receiving reduced divorced spousal benefits at age 62. You will keep the reduction that you took for starting your own retirement benefits at age 62, however.

For example, say Julie files for benefits at age 62. Julie's own full retirement age rate (PIA) is $800, but her benefit rate is reduced to $600 for starting at age 62. Julie is also entitled to unreduced excess divorced spousal benefits of $200, which are calculated by subtracting her own PIA from 50% of her ex-husband's PIA of $2000 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800 = $200). Julie's excess divorced spousal benefits are reduced for age to $140 because she also started drawing those benefits at age 62.

Therefore, in our example above Julie's combined benefit rate is $740 (i.e. $600 + $140). If Julie later remarries, her divorced spousal benefits would terminate effective with the month of her remarriage. However, if Julie's new spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement benefits then Julie could potentially become entitled to excess spousal benefits on her new spouse's record. And, any such benefits would be unreduced if she becomes entitled to them at FRA or later.

Continuing our example, if Julie remarries at age 67 her divorced spousal benefits would end. However, say Julie's new husband is receiving retirement benefits and his PIA is $2000. Julie could then become entitled to spousal benefits of $200 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800), which would not be reduced for age because she became entitled to those benefits after reaching her FRA. Her combined benefit rate would then become $800 (i.e. $600 + $200).

Furthermore, if your new husband is drawing his retirement benefits at the time of your marriage you will not have to wait a year to potentially become eligible for spousal benefits. One of the exceptions to the 1 year waiting period is eligibility for divorced spousal benefits in the month prior to the month of remarriage (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-0305.html). Therefore, it sounds like you'll probably qualify for spousal benefits as early as the first full month of your new marriage.

Best, Jerry