Did You Delay Your Social Security To Help Your Spouse? Get the facts before you delay any further.
Your full retirement age is based on your year of birth, and is between age 66 and 67. It is not age 65 contrary to popular belief. You are eligible to get 100% of your Social Security benefit at FRA. If you delay past FRA the government gives you a strong financial incentive. For every year past your FRA age that you delay drawing benefits, you’ll earn a guaranteed 8% per year.
Many men with wives who were homemakers, want to beef up their spouse’s eventual retirement by bolstering their own. A homemaker who never earned enough to draw her own Social Security benefits, can draw up to 50% of her spouse’s benefit. “Up to 50%” of his benefit at his FRA. If he delays till age 70, that in no way benefits her while he is alive. She is still only eligible to get up to 50% of the amount he would have gotten at age 66-67.
I’ve had many men tell me their plan is to delay drawing their own Social Security retirement benefits until age 70 to help bolster their wife’s retirement.
You May Not Be Helping
In this scenario, if your husband is trying to help you, he may actually be preventing you from drawing any Social Security. A wife cannot draw benefits off her spouse until he starts drawing his own benefits. By delaying, he prevents her from drawing off him. If she has at least 10 years and 40 credits, she can draw her own retirement, even though it may be smaller. Once he does begin drawing, she can then switch to her higher, spousal amount.
The husband who wants to help his wife earn more social Security, can do so by earning more in his lifetime. In 2022, the most that you can earn that is subject to FICA taxes is about $150k. If you earn a million dollars this year, it won’t boost your Social Security.
The thoughtful husband above who delayed drawing his own Social Security until age 70 will help his widow. If you did delay your Social Security to help your spouse and you die before your spouse (also applies to qualifying former spouses), she will be eligible for up to 100% of his—including the extra money he earned by delaying drawing until age 70!
The SSA offices are under a large backlog due to COVID. It takes about two months to get an appointment. If you want to claim any type of Social Security benefit, contact the SSA 3 months in advance. If you want to claim spousal benefits, you’ll need to provide proof of your marriage (and divorce, if applicable). To make it just a bit more complicated, the government won’t accept xerox copies. You must have original documents or certified copies from the original issuing authority. This can take time to acquire—start early.
Don’t guess about your Social Security retirement dollars. You can set up a free account at www.ssa.gov and see an estimate of how much you will be able to draw. If you are trying to estimate your spousal share, have your spouse set up an account. If half of his amount at his FRA is more than all of your benefit, you’ll be claiming off of your spouse. But keep in mind, that you cannot draw off your spouse until your spouse starts drawing his own Social Security.
Sylvia Gordon and her sister, Rebecca, run Gordon Marketing, one of the nation’s largest Medicare FMO/NMA offices. They have a team of over 100 that train and support independent insurance agents in all 50 states. You can find Sylvia’s weekly posts on LinkedIn and the sisters' Youtube channel posts 2 training videos each week. Contact Sylvia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-388-8342.
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