Ask Rusty – Will my wife get spousal benefit when I claim at 70? – The Observer

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Dear Rusty: My wife started collecting Social Security at age 65 (full retirement age) and will be 69 in July. I was able to collect half of his social security under an older law. In April, I will turn 70 and start collecting my own social security. I know that I will no longer receive spouse’s allowance at that time, but what I don’t understand is that my wife will be able to claim spouse’s allowance and receive 50% of my social security. She’s currently getting about $930, but 50% of my social security might be about $1,800. Can you give some insight on this? Signed: to be 70 years old

Dear Turner: You are correct that you now receive your Spouse’s Allowance under an “old law”, which was changed by the bipartisan budget law of 2015 and is no longer available to anyone born after the 1st January 1954. You are also correct that since you are now receiving spousal benefit from your wife on a “restricted application for spousal benefits only”, you can apply for your personal SS retirement benefit from age 70, date at which your spousal benefit from your wife will stop. You can apply for your 70-year-old benefit now, before April, but just be sure to specify on your application that you want your SS retirement benefit to start in April (to avoid a reduction). For your information, you can do this online at www.ssa.gov – there is a question on the application that asks if you are now collecting benefits from someone else, to which you must answer “yes and provide your wife’s social security number. To apply online, you must first create your personal “my Social Security” account, which is easy to do at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Of course, you can also apply by phone at your local SS office or by calling 1.800.772.1213, but applying online is by far the most efficient method.

After you submit your application for your own SS retirement benefit, your wife may ask you for a spousal benefit, but the amount of her spousal benefit may not be exactly what you believe. First, your wife’s spousal benefit will be based on the benefit amount you were entitled to at your full retirement age (FRA) of 66, not your benefit amount at age 70. Second, your wife was born in 1953, so her full retirement age is 66 (not 65). If your wife claimed her own SS benefit at age 65, she actually claimed a year early, so it was slightly reduced from her total benefit amount. This is not a bad thing as it allowed you to collect your spousal benefit a year earlier, but it will slightly affect his spousal benefit from you and make it a little less than 50% of your FRA benefit amount .

When a spouse takes their own benefits earlier, their spousal amount will be less than 50% due to the way spousal benefits are calculated. Your wife’s new benefit as your spouse will consist of two parts – her own benefit and a “spouse increase” to bring her payment up to her spousal entitlement. His “spouse’s boost” – which is the difference between his FRA benefit and half of your FRA benefit – will be added to his slightly reduced benefit at age 65 and the total will become his spousal payment, but this will be just under 50% of your FRA benefit amount. Nevertheless, you were smart in taking advantage of an “old law” that allowed you to get spouse’s allowance from your wife while your own allowance was maxed out.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not represent legal or financial advice. It presents the opinions and interpretations of AMAC Foundation staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). The NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government entity. To submit a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us at [email protected]
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