Will My Wife's Spousal Rate Be 50% Of My Full Retirement Age Rate Or My Age 70 Rate?

Oct 9 2019 - 12:02pm

Hi Larry. My wife and I were both born in 1953 (ages 66). If my wife applies for her full SS retirement benefits off her record now, and then switches and applies for higher spousal benefits (50% off my record when I file for delayed retirement benefits at age 70, will her spousal benefit then be 50% of my retirement as calculated at my full retirement age of 66 (I'm not retiring then) or will her benefit be 50% of my delayed retirement benefit as calculated at age 70 when I retire? At present after she files for her retirement benefit off her record can I now file a restricted application for spousal benefits off her record while I am still working without adversely affecting my own retirement benefit which I will file for when I retire at 70 years of age? Thanks.


Assuming that your wife's own Social Security retirement rate isn't more than 50% of your primary insurance amount (PIA), then the most she could receive as a combined retirement and spousal rate couldn't exceed 50% of your PIA even if you wait until age 70 to start drawing your benefits. And, if she starts drawing her own benefits prior to her full retirement age (FRA) she would keep any reduction applied to that benefit even if she later becomes eligible for additional spousal benefits. A person's PIA, by the way, is the amount of their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing at full retirement age (FRA).

However, if you wait until age 70 to start drawing your benefits your wife could receive up to 100% of your age 70 rate as a widow. Drawing spousal benefits between FRA and age 70 would not adversely affect your own Social Security retirement rate. And yes, if your wife files for her benefits then you could potentially file for just spousal benefits only at FRA or later and be paid those benefits regardless of how much you work and earn.

It sounds like you and your wife should strongly consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully explore and compare all of your various options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming benefits.

Best, Jerry