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PSSC DISCUSSIONS

Social Security Spousal Benefits

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I have been asked a question by people who were wondering if they can collect their Social Security retirement benefit if their husband also collects his benefit. I guess there is some confusion about collecting ones own Social Security benefit and/or spousal benefits. There are many variables in answering this question. These include the person’s age, any wage or self-employment income and any benefit they may be entitled to on their own work record.

The first thing the Social Security office will do is determine if you are entitled to benefits from your own work record. If you have earned 40 quarters of coverage or more you are entitled to a monthly benefit payment. You can begin to draw your benefits as early as age 62 regardless of what your spouse does with their benefit. If you take benefits before your full retirement age the benefit will be reduced for age. If you are under your full retirement age you may lose some benefits if your annual earnings are more than $14,160. In the year you reach your full retirement age this earnings limit goes up to $37,680 and only counts earnings in months before the month of your birthday. See the recent article I wrote about the annual earnings test for a full explanation.

Next the Social Security representative will look at any spousal benefit you may be entitled to receive. A spouse is eligible for a monthly benefit at their full retirement age equal to ½ of their spouses full retirement age benefit less what they are entitled to at their own full retirement age. If you take benefits before your full retirement age these benefits are reduced for age. For example, if your spouse is entitled to $2,200 per month in Social Security benefits at their full retirement age and you are entitled to $700 per month in benefits at your full retirement age you would receive the $700 from your own work record and $2,200 divided by 2 or $1,100 less your $700 for a total of $400 in spousal benefits. Your total monthly benefit would be $700 + $400 or a total of $1,100 per month. You cannot file for spousal benefits until your spouse files their application first.



 
 
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There were a few scenarios that neither one of us (husband and wife) was aware of. We probably would have picked the wrong one . . . It’s a significant difference depending one he one you pick.
Glen
2017 Social Security & Medicare Facts
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