Will My Wife's Benefit Rate Increase If I Work Past My FRA?

Nov 19 2019 - 8:25am

Hello Mr. Larry,
Here is my background.
I immigrated to this Country in 1999. I started to work since Dec-1999 as an engineer in County Highway Department. My wife is a housewife and took care of our children and didn’t work outside. She is younger than me by 2 years and 7-months. This December -2019, I will be completing 20 years of working in the local government unit. I will turn 65 years the next February -2020. I intend to work unto my full retirement age (FRA) 66-yrs 2-months and if possible till my wife turn 65 in 2022. I believe she will be eligible to get half of the amount I will get the social security benefit at the age of her FRA.
Now the questions:
Question: 1 if I continue to work past my FRA, my benefit amount will increase. Will my wife’s benefit amount will increase or not?
Question: 2 If I retired at my FRA and stopped working but doesn’t claim social security benefits and manage to live from my savings for another 2-3 years. Will my benefit increase or not?
Question: 3 if any of us die after claiming benefits, will the survivor’s benefit increase or not?
I am eagerly waiting for your response.

Hi Prafull,

The answer to your first two questions is yes. Regarding question 3, if you die before your wife then her spousal benefits would convert to widow's benefits, which would result in her receiving the full amount that you were receiving. But, if your wife dies before you then her spousal benefits would stop and there would be no change in your benefit rate.

If your wife files for spousal benefits at her full retirement age (FRA) or later, she'll receive 50% of your primary insurance amount (PIA). However, your wife can't start drawing spousal benefits until you start drawing your benefits. Your PIA is equal to the amount of your Social Security retirement benefit amount if you start drawing at FRA. If your PIA subsequently increases because of additional earnings, both your and your wife's benefit rates would increase.

If you wait past your FRA to start drawing your benefits, even if you don't continue working you'll receive delayed retirement credits (DRC) that will raise your benefit rate by 2/3rds of 1% for each month that you refrain from taking benefits until you reach age 70. If you wait all the way until age 70 to start drawing, your benefit amount would be roughly 30.66% more than your PIA. Furthermore, any DRCs that you earn by waiting past FRA to claim benefits would be included in your wife's survivor rate if you die before her. DRCs would not raise your wife's spousal rate while you're living, though, since those benefits are based on 50% of your PIA.

You and your wife should strongly consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully explore and compare all of your options so that you can determine your best overall strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry