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    Understanding spousal SS benefits

    I just want to make sure I understand how this works.

    If I retire at 67 (FRA) I get $3,287/mo. My wife, on her own, would get $970. But she can collect based on my benefit, correct? Then she gets 50% of what I get, so $1,644. Is that correct?

    If so, does she continue to get that benefit indefinitely? Does it stop when I die? Does it switch to her own amount at some point?
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    #2
    I believe when you die, her spousal benefits would end and convert to survivor's benefits at which point she'd get 100% of your benefits. My knowledge on the topic is rusty though, I'd double check that.

    Comment


      #3
      Another strategy you could use is to see if it would benefit her to take early retirement on her own record (I believe she cannot take it on yours anyway until you take it), then have her switch to your spousal benefits at your FRA when you file a claim.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by HundredK View Post
        Another strategy you could use is to see if it would benefit her to take early retirement on her own record (I believe she cannot take it on yours anyway until you take it), then have her switch to your spousal benefits at your FRA when you file a claim.
        I was wondering about that, too. She can get $683 at 62. And if I put off collecting until 70, I get $4,087.

        It's looking more and more like SS will be complete gravy for us regardless of when I take it, but I am running FIRECalc both ways. I wanted to make sure I was plugging in the right number for her benefits.
        Steve

        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

        Comment


          #5
          Question: If both spouses have worked and are eligible, when you go to take your SS, does each spouse get their full eligible amount?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Snicks View Post
            Question: If both spouses have worked and are eligible, when you go to take your SS, does each spouse get their full eligible amount?
            You typically get whichever amount would be more, but not both amounts. So if the spouse's amount would result in a bigger check, they'd get that (assuming the spouse has filed a claim themselves already), whereas if their own amount would result in more, they'd get that.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by HundredK View Post

              You typically get whichever amount would be more, but not both amounts. So if the spouse's amount would result in a bigger check, they'd get that (assuming the spouse has filed a claim themselves already), whereas if their own amount would result in more, they'd get that.
              I am not referring to Survivor benefits. WHen I look at SSA.gov and see my estimated benefits and then Dh sees his. If we are both retired, does he get the estimated benefit he worked for and do I get the estimated benefit I worked for? I mean, it's an Earned Benefit isn't it?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Snicks View Post

                I am not referring to Survivor benefits. WHen I look at SSA.gov and see my estimated benefits and then Dh sees his. If we are both retired, does he get the estimated benefit he worked for and do I get the estimated benefit I worked for? I mean, it's an Earned Benefit isn't it?
                You get either your earned benefit or 1/2 of your spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher.

                In our case, my wife will get $700 more with the spousal benefit rather than her own earned benefit.
                Steve

                * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by disneysteve View Post

                  You get either your earned benefit or 1/2 of your spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher.

                  In our case, my wife will get $700 more with the spousal benefit rather than her own earned benefit.
                  Our earned benefits are pretty close to each other so then we would each get what we had earned then as half would be less than our actual earned amount?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Snicks View Post

                    Our earned benefits are pretty close to each other so then we would each get what we had earned then as half would be less than our actual earned amount?
                    Yes. You would each get your earned benefit since that's the higher amount.
                    Steve

                    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Snicks View Post

                      I am not referring to Survivor benefits. WHen I look at SSA.gov and see my estimated benefits and then Dh sees his. If we are both retired, does he get the estimated benefit he worked for and do I get the estimated benefit I worked for? I mean, it's an Earned Benefit isn't it?
                      So, if you both earned a benefit, Social Security will figure it out both ways. Lets say you both earned about the same and you both have a PIA of $2800 at full retirement age. You both retire at full retirement age, you will both receive $2800. If on the other hand your spouse's PIA at FRA is $3287 and your PIA at FRA is $970, SS will figure it both ways--the spouse at FRA would receive $1643 instead of $970. (when I say at Full Retirement age--that means when you first claim. If you claim prior to FRA, you have a permanent reduction in the amount based on how early you claim. And, as hundredK noted above, the worker has to claim before the spouse can claim a spousal benefit. )

                      So, you can see under the spousal benefit scenario you receive about 150% of the PIA at FRA. When one of the spouses pass away, it goes down to 100%.

                      Here is a link to Early or Late Retirement? on the SS web site.

                      https://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/early_late.html

                      "A spouse can choose to retire as early as age 62, but doing so may result in a benefit as little as 32.5 percent of the worker's primary insurance amount."

                      Spousal Benefit calculator
                      https://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/spouse.html

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Are you and your wife the same age? That can play into claiming strategies.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by corn18 View Post
                          Are you and your wife the same age? That can play into claiming strategies.
                          She’s 9 months older than me.
                          Steve

                          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Close enough. She should claim on her own benefits @ 70 exactly. You claim spousal benefits off her at the same time. Then when you turn 70, you claim your own benefits and she switches to spousal benefits. It's only 9 months, but it will get yo a bit extra.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by corn18 View Post
                              Close enough. She should claim on her own benefits @ 70 exactly. You claim spousal benefits off her at the same time. Then when you turn 70, you claim your own benefits and she switches to spousal benefits. It's only 9 months, but it will get yo a bit extra.
                              I see how that gets us every possible penny. Thanks.

                              Assuming we don’t care about squeezing every cent, could she claim her own benefit earlier than 70 and then switch to spousal benefit whenever I claim?
                              Steve

                              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                              Comment

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