If My Spouse Waits Till Age 70 to Claim Social Security, Will It Help Me?

If My Spouse Waits Till Age 70 to Claim Social Security, Will It Help Me?
Photo by sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the Social Security Q&A. You ask a Social Security question, our expert provides the answer.

You can learn how to ask a question of your own below. And if you would like a personalized report detailing your optimal Social Security claiming strategy, click here. Check it out: It could result in receiving thousands of dollars more in benefits over your lifetime!

Today’s question comes from Carol:

“I am 59 and will soon be getting disability benefits due to many health issues. My benefit amount is $860 a month. My husband is 66 and working part time. He has not claimed Social Security yet. If he claimed at 66, he would receive about $2,180 a month. He also has some health issues and (based on) family (history) does not have a life expectancy past (his) early 70s.

Would you recommend early retirement for him? Also, if he were to pass before me, would that affect my disability benefits? Would it be better to claim a spousal benefit, or am I even eligible for it?”

Raising important questions

Carol, you raise several interesting issues. First, since your husband was born prior to 1954, he qualifies for a special option often referred to as a “restricted application.” This would work as follows:

He can claim a spousal benefit on your record, receiving half of your benefit, or $430 a month. Then, at age 70 (or earlier) he can switch to his own benefit. If he waits until age 70, his benefit will have grown by 32%, from $2,180 to $2,878.

Second, when your husband claims his own benefit, you are eligible for a spousal supplement. If you claimed it at your full retirement age (FRA) of 67, you would receive a supplement that would bring your overall benefit up to half of his FRA benefit. Half of his FRA amount is $1,090. So, your benefit of $860 would be increased by a supplement of $230, bringing your total benefit up to $1,090.

If you claimed the spousal supplement before age 67, it would be reduced by an early penalty. For example, if you claimed the spousal supplement at age 62, it would be reduced by about 35%, or from $230 to about $150.

Next, if your husband dies first, you become eligible for a widow’s benefit. If you claim it at your FRA of 67, you would receive the same amount that he had received. Claiming it earlier than your FRA would result in an early claiming penalty.

Finally, we have one last question: Should your husband claim benefits soon because of his health issues and family history?

If your husband were not married, I would answer with a definite “yes.” However, since you stand to inherit his benefit, your life expectancy plays an important role here.

If your disability is not life-threatening, then you could outlive your husband by many years. If this is the case, you could benefit substantially by having him delay claiming until age 70.

Got a question you’d like answered?

You can ask a question simply by hitting “reply” to our email newsletter, just as you would with any email in your inbox. If you’re not subscribed, fix that right now by clicking here. It’s free, only takes a few seconds, and will get you valuable information every day!

The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. So, it’s better not to ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you.

About me

I hold a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin and taught economics at the University of Delaware for many years.

In 2009, I co-founded SocialSecurityChoices.com, an internet company that provides advice on Social Security claiming decisions. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

Disclaimer: We strive to provide accurate information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that we are not offering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services, and that the SSA alone makes all final determinations on your eligibility for benefits and the benefit amounts. Our advice on claiming strategies does not comprise a comprehensive financial plan. You should consult with your financial adviser regarding your individual situation.

Learn everything you need to plan your dream retirement

The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need gives you the knowledge you need to retire on your own terms. Sure, you can pay a financial adviser, but this online course gives you total control to create a custom retirement plan around the things that make you happy.

You're going to get expert, personalized advice. You'll have access to the latest tools. And when it's complete, you'll be able to approach your retirement confidently and with peace of mind.

It's time to plan the best years of your life. Let's get started.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next

5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income
5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income

Here’s how to keep Uncle Sam from taxing your Social Security benefits.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over
12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over

Buy a reusable version of these household items and you won’t have to spend another dime on them for years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Comments

Trending Stories