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« Timing is Everything When You Claim Social Security | Main | When to Claim Social Security Spousal Benefits »



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“I don't plan to claim my spousal benefit until I'm 66 …”. Why does the answer not mention his benefit, particularly that he would receive the larger of the two amounts (his benefit or 50% of her full benefit)?

Lynn replies: Because that rule doesn't apply in this case.

You're right that if this guy were younger than 66, he would receive the larger of the two amounts -- his benefit, or 50% of her full benefit.

But if he waits until he's 66 to apply, he has the option to take ONLY his spousal benefit (50% of hers) and postpone taking his own benefit until later. (Read the previous post, which went into some detail about the option to restrict your Social Security application to your spousal benefit alone after you reach your full retirement age.)

He can collect 50% of his wife's benefit until he applies for his own. Then he'll switch from one to the other.

Thank you for this, and especially your earlier post regarding qualifications for spousal benefits. I have never before been able to find anywhere a clear and complete explanation.

I began taking SS at 63, and am now 64-1/2. When my wife turned 62 last year, she inquired about taking spousal benefits rather than her own (reduced) benefit, and was told that was not possible. I never really understood the reason why and continued to wonder about it a bit until reading your explanation (that her reduced benefit would be higher than the spousal benefit, and she could not separate the benefits until age 66). So my understanding now is that the only way for her to take the spousal benefit and postpone further taking her own benefit is to wait 3 more years until she is 66.

Still a very difficult choice. Take her reduced $1600 now, or the $850 spousal benefit in three years, or much more in seven. We have substantial assets in IRAs and have been withdrawing (less than 4%) for maybe 6 years and have definitely been scrimping on spending for at least 4 years. Very tempted to take her reduced benefit now at age 63 and be able to spend a bit more freely. At least she waited 1 year.

Thanks again for your explanation.

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