11 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2013 11:10 AM by herbyreed

    My wife's situation

    compiler
      OK, I started drawing SS January, 2012 (I reached FRA in June that year, so I get almost 100% of my full benefit).
      My wife just turned 62. I assume she can draw early SS now based on her earnings. If she does that, and say I pass away, can she switch and draw SS based on my earnings? If so, would she draw what I am currently drawing or what I would have drawn at her current age, or?
       
      Mel
       
        • Re: My wife's situation
          MISPROF
          At this point it would be better to have her draw against your SS benefits as a spouse and defer hers until later to allow them to continue to grow until she reaches full retirement age. At a later date she can then draw against her own SS retirement benefits, which would be at the higher rate due to waiting. A spouse can draw spousal benefits or their own, but not both. Drawing spousal benefits does not impair her ability to draw benefits based on her own earnings at any point in the future.
            • Re: My wife's situation
              compiler
              I'm confused. Are you saying that she can draw spousal benefits based on MY earnings despite the fact that I am already drawing benefits? If so, and I pass away, can she continue to draw base on my earnings? My wife retired about 12 years ago, so she is not earning wages.
              Mel
               
              • Re: My wife's situation
                CurtGufe
                I am pretty sure that the spouse, while eligible for starting benefits at age 62, is not free to chose between spousal benefit or own benefit until FRA. Prior to the spouse's FRA, the SSA determines which befit is hgher and pays that amount. Consequently, the spouse is permanently penalized for taking benefits early (before FRA). Again, as far as I understand it, a spouse that takes SS prior to FRA will not get full surviving spouse benefits if these are taken prior to FRA. 
                 
                It is only at FRA that the spouse will get full benefits (based on his/her employment record or the his/her spouse's employment record, whichever is higher) and the right to file and suspend his/her own benefits. Also, only if the spouse starts SS at or after FRA will the spouse get the full survivor's benefit (which is 100% of his/her spouses SS benefit, rather than the 50% his/her spouse's benefit) - which depends on when the his/her spouse started taking SS benefits.  (The situation is slightly different if one spouse dies before taking SS, but that does not apply for Mel, who already started getting SS at his FRA.)
                 
                I'm not advising for or against the spouse starting SS at age 62 (that depends on very individual factors and should be done after carefully considering those factors - with the help of a financial adviser). I just want everyone to realize that the spouse will be penalized for taking SS benefits prior to FRA, and that penalty continues even after the death of the other spouse. 
                • Re: My wife's situation
                  herbyreed
                  This is not correct (that a spouse can defer drawing the spouse record benefit before FRA).  The SS site is very clear that if a spouse is less than FRA SS will pay the benefit from the spouse's record first and only then apply the spouse benefit, if that results in a larger payment.  Also the payment earned by the spouse is then permanently reduced. This might still be a good choice - it just depends on the individual circumstances.  But it is not until the spouse is at full retirement age that the spouse benefit can be claimed while deferring the claim for the benefits earned on the spouse's record.