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Date Add : 09-12-2011 

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Social Security Question:

Wife Social Security Benefits

Social Security Answer:

Both my wife and I are 62. My wife recently retired while I continue to work and plan to do so for several more years. Over the years, I've earned about 10% more than her so the benefits on her record shouldn't be too much different than mine. Our financial advisor suggested that my wife apply for spouse benefits now and delay applying for her own benefits until she is closer to full retirement age. The information from SSA is not clear on whether this can be done and the procedure. First, SSA indicates that she cannot get spouse benefits unless I apply for benefits. Is this correct? If so, it appears there is a procedure to file for benefits and then delay those benefits - called "file and suspend." What is the procedure to do so and will this affect the amount that I would be eligible for at age 66? Are there other factors that should be considered before filing and suspending? SSA also indicates that if a person is eligible for her own benefit and for benefits as a spouse, it will pay the person's own benefits first. For practical purposes, does this rule out the idea of my wife applying for spouse benefits now and delaying applying for her own benefits until age 66? If she is eligible to draw a spouse benefit now based on my record, and delay filing for benefits on her own record until later, would her spouse benefit be reduced based on my earnings, much like my own benefits would be reduced by earnings until age 66? If we proceed with this process, with me filing and then suspending benefits and her filing for the spouse benefit based on my record, what forms do each of us need to complete?

Support Replied ~ 08-22-2011 19:06:06

Dear Paul:
If one files before FRA (Age 66 in your case), they must first take their own benefit and then if the spouses rate is more than double their own rate, the difference is added to their check. However, in your case, you said that you and your wife have pretty much the same benefit rate. Therefore I do not think your rate is double hers. The only way to get spouses' benefits without filing for your own is to wait until age 66 to file for benefits. She could file under your account at age 66 and leave her own until age 70....Or you could file under her account at age 66 and leave your own benefit rate alone until you are 70. After age 66, you can work and make as much as you want and still get checks. Also, if you take this option to file spoouses' benefits first, you can switch to your own rate at anytime between age 66 and 70....However, there is a big increase in your check from age 66 to age 70. To figure out which option you want to take, find out what each of you would receive at age 66 and then at age 70.

In order to file for benefits, you can do the application over the internet or make an appointment either by phone or in person with your local office by calling the toll free number. If you feel that you do not want to wait for benefits, then have your wife file for her own because she is not working and will be eligible now. Usually rates only go up about $10-$15 a month and it is not worth giving up the whole check because the next month t might be $10 more......Hope you understand my concept....If not, write again and I will call you.......Carol

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DISCLAIMER - You should consult with your local Social Security Office before acting upon any information received as a response to your question on "Social Security Advisor".

"Social Security Advisor" is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services.

Information obtained from, including e-mail responses from "Social Security Advisor" should be considered as general educational information. You must never rely upon the advice given here. Your individual situation may not fit the generalizations discussed. Only your local Social Security office can evaluate your individual situation and give you advice.

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