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Retired Spouse Social Security Benefits

Social Security And Your Spouse

Social Security Benefits for Ex-Spouses

Social Security will provide benefits to your spouse if you are receiving the retirement benefit. This is regardless of whether your spouse has worked or not. In some cases, even ex-spouses can claim. To qualify, your spouse must be at least 62 years old. Additionally, you need to apply for the Social Security benefit first.

Other Things You Need To Know

There are limits on how much survivors may earn while they receive benefits.

Benefits for a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse may be affected by several additional factors:

  • If you remarry before age 60 , you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married.
  • If you remarry after age 60 , you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record.
  • However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, you may want to apply for spouse’s benefits on their record. If that amount is more than your widow’s or widower’s benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount.

  • If you receive benefits as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse.
  • In many cases, a widow or widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and allow the other benefit amount to increase.
  • If you will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, your Social Security benefits as a survivor may be affected.

The File And Suspend Strategy

Prior to 2016, workers could file for benefits , then suspend their own benefits in order to maximize their credits for deferred filing. This so-called file and suspend strategy meant that a lower-income partner could take advantage of spousal benefits while the primary earner accrued delayed retirement credits, thereby increasing their benefit amount.

However, this “have your cake and eat it, too” loophole was closed with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which took effect in April 2016.

While it is still possible to file for benefits and then suspend payments temporarily, any other benefits that would normally be available on your account are no longer payable during such suspensions.

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Strategy For Divorced Spouses

If you have been divorced for at least two years, you can apply for spousal benefits if your marriage lasted 10 or more years. If, on the other hand, you are still married and considering a divorce, and are near retirement age, try to apply for spousal benefits before your divorce is final. If you have been married and divorced multiple times, you can choose to receive whichever spousal benefit is highest. Saving your ex-spouses Social Security numbers and dates of birth will make the enrollment process easier.

There Are Social Security Survivor Benefits For Spouses And Children

Social Security Benefits: Strategies for Divorcing Spouses

If your spouse dies before you, you can take a Social Security survivor benefit. However, that wont be in addition to your own benefit. You must choose one or the other. If you are at full retirement age, that benefit is worth 100% of what your spouse was receiving at the time of his or her death .

A widow or widower can start taking a survivor benefit at age 60. However, the payment will be reduced because its taken before full retirement age. Theres a twist available assuming the survivor has benefits of their own available and hasnt already filed for them: Take the survivor benefits as early as possible, which is age 60, and switch to your own retirement benefits at age 70. Your survivor benefits will be reduced because you will have filed for them before your full retirement age, but your own benefits will grow, garnering delayed-retirement increases, until age 70. Online programs such as the one offered by Social Security Solutions can help you compare the cumulative benefits for each strategy to determine which one provides the highest payout.

Remarriage has implications here. If you remarry before age 60, you are not eligible for a survivor benefit. If you remarry after age 60, you may be eligible for a survivor benefit based on your former spouses earnings.

Eligible children who are under age 18 or were disabled before age 22 can also receive a Social Security survivor benefit. It would be worth up to 75% of the deceased’s benefit.

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Will A Government Pension Impact My Retirement Benefits

If you worked for an employer that didnt withhold FICA taxes from your salary, such as a government agency, the pension you receive based on that work may reduce your Social Security retirement benefits. This reduction, as part of the windfall elimination provision , affects individuals who earned a pension in any job where FICA taxes werent paid and who worked in other jobs long enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.

In addition to a reduction in individual benefits, spousal and/or survivor benefits may also be reduced accordingly. In this case, Social Security benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of the government pension.

How Much Should You Expect To Get From Spousal Benefits

Spousal benefits are capped at half your spouses benefit at full retirement age. If waits beyond that to claim, the spousal benefit cannot grow further, says Claire Toth, managing principal and senior wealth strategist at New Jersey-based Peapack-Gladstone Bank.

Toth is referring to the strategy of a retiree not claiming benefits until past full retirement age in order to claim a bigger monthly benefit. Social Security will boost your benefit substantially if you delay filing until as late as age 70. Its one way to juice your payout without working more.

However, if you file before full retirement age, your spouse will likely receive a permanently reduced benefit. Benefits may be reduced so that the spouse receives as little as 32.5 percent of the retirees benefit. The spousal benefit is reduced by about seven-tenths of 1 percent for each month before full retirement age, up to 36 months. If you exceed the 36 months, Social Security will dock about four-tenths of 1 percent for further months. The math can be complicated, but Social Security provides a tool to help you calculate your spousal benefit.

The exception to this rule of filing early is if a spouse is caring for a child under age 16 or one who is disabled, in which case the benefit is not reduced. In fact, this spouse could claim the spousal benefit at any age if theyre caring for a child who also receives benefits.

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Ask The Expert: Spouses Ex

I know that my spouse can collect a Social Security benefit based on my work record. Apparently, it’s also possible for a divorced person to collect the same Social Security benefit based on their former spouse’s work record. Are the rules the same for spouses and ex-spouses?

No. They’re similar, but not the same.

Lets start with married couples. To qualify for a benefit based on your spouse’s work record: 1) you must have been married at least one year 2) you must be at least 62 years old 3) your spouse must already have applied for Social Security 4) your benefit based on your spouse’s earnings must be bigger than the one based on your own work record. If you qualify for both, you get an amount equal to the larger of the two.

If youre divorced, youre eligible a benefit based on your former spouse’s work record if: 1) at least two years have passed since your divorce 2) your marriage lasted at least 10 years 3) you haven’t remarried 4) you and your ex are both eligible to file for Social Security, meaning you’re either at least 62 years old or disabled 5) your benefit based on your ex’s record must be bigger than the one based on your own record.

The most you can collect based on a living spouse or former spouse’s record is 50% of his or her full retirement benefit.

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Documents You Need To Apply

Social Security beneficiaries say loss of spouse dollars at death an “unfair” reality

Please select the benefit you will be applying for from the list below to see what information and documents you may need when you apply:

If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay applying for Social Security benefits.

In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you. If we can’t verify your information online, we can still help you get the information you need.

Mailing Your Documents

If you mail any documents to us, you must include the Social Security number so that we can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.

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A Guide On Taking Social Security

Deciding when to take Social Security depends heavily on your circumstances. You can start taking it as early as age 62 , or you can wait until you’ve reached full retirement age or age 70 based on your work history. While there’s no “correct” claiming age for everybody, the rule of thumb is that if you can afford to wait, delaying Social Security can pay off over a long retirement. Here are some guidelines to consider.

How Will My Retirement Benefits Be Taxed

Approximately one-third of people who collect Social Security benefits are required to pay income taxes on these benefits. Individuals with higher total incomes must include up to 85% of their benefits as income for federal income tax purposes, designated by special step-rate thresholds. However, the taxation thresholds for your benefits arent currently indexed for inflation.

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If You Are The Survivor

Just as you plan for your family’s protection if you die, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.

How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits

A worker can earn up to four credits each year. In 2022, for example, your spouse can earn one credit for each $1,510 of wages or self-employment income. When your spouse has earned $6,040 they have earned their four credits for the year.

The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when they die. No one needs more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. But, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive survivors benefits.

Some survivors can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work in the three years just before their death. Each persons situation is different and you need to talk to one of our claims representatives about your choices.

Beware The Social Security Earnings Test

Retirement Benefit Info for Divorced Persons

Bringing in too much money in earned income can cost you if you continue to work after claiming Social Security benefits early. With what is commonly known as the Social Security earnings test for annual income, you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you make over the earnings limit, which in 2022 is $19,560. Once you are past full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, and you can make as much money as you want with no impact on benefits.

Any Social Security benefits forfeited to the earnings test are not lost forever. At your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefits to take into account benefits lost to the test. For example, if you claim benefits at 62 and over the next four years lose one full years worth of benefits to the earnings test, at a full retirement age of 66 your benefits will be recomputed and increased as if you had taken benefits three years early, instead of four. That basically means the lifetime reduction in benefits would be 20% rather than 25%.

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Income Tax Calculator: Estimate Your Taxes

If you’re insured for retirement benefits and if your PIA is less than 50% of your husband’s PIA, you’d be paid your own benefit plus a partial, or excess, spousal benefit. The two benefits would then add up to a full 50% of your husband’s PIA, assuming that you don’t start collecting benefits prior to FRA.

It sounds like you may want to consider using my company’s software Maximize My Social Security or MaxiFi Planner to ensure your household receives the highest lifetime benefits. Social Security calculators provided by other companies or non-profits may provide proper suggestions if they were built with extreme care. Best, Larry

Can I Collect Spousal Benefits At My FRA?

Hi Larry, I will be 66 next February and have been collecting my own retirement benefits for a year. My husband is 66 and collects his retirement benefit. Can I collect spousal benefit at my FRA? And if I can, at what rate? Its all so confusing to me. Thanks, Eileen

Hi Eileen, The only way that you could qualify for spousal benefits while you husband is living is if your husband’s primary insurance amount is more than twice as much as your own PIA. A person’s PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing their benefits at full retirement age .

If you think that your husband’s PIA may be more than twice as much as your own PIA, then you should probably check with Social Security just to make sure that your entitlement wasn’t overlooked. Best, Larry

Social Security Program Rules

This section provides a brief overview of the Social Security program rules applicable to women aged 62 or older who are eligible for marriage-based retirement benefits as the wife, divorced ex-wife, or widow of an insured worker. The wife of a retired worker is eligible for a spousal benefit of up to 50 percent of her husband’s primary insurance amount , if claimed at her full retirement age .4 A wife generally must be married to the insured worker for at least 1 continuous year before she can receive benefits based on her husband’s record. A divorcee may be eligible for a divorced-spouse benefit of up to 50 percent of her ex-spouse’s PIA if the marriage lasted 10 years and the ex-spouse is alive.5 A dually entitled womanwho is eligible for benefits based on her own and on her spouse’s lifetime earningsreceives her retired-worker benefit supplemented by the difference between that amount and the spousal benefit amount. If the wife’s own retired-worker benefit is higher than her spousal benefit, she receives only her retired-worker benefit .

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Why Did David Stern Retire

1, 1984. By the time he left his position in 2014 he wouldnt say or let league staffers say retire, because he never stopped working a league that fought for a foothold before him had grown to a more than $5 billion a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the worlds most popular sport after soccer.

Work For At Least 35 Years

Wondering about Social Security Spousal Benefits?

The Social Security Administration uses your 35 highest-earning years to calculate your primary insurance amount , which is the monthly benefit amount you receive as of your full retirement age. If youâve worked fewer than 35 years, Social Security uses zeroes in the calculation for the non-earning years.

That means beneficiaries with fewer than 35 years of income can make a big difference in the size of their benefit by continuing to work and getting some of the zeroes replaced with positive income numbers.

Brotman also suggests strategically increasing your yearly income, if possible, to help maximize your future benefits.

âThe first $142,800 of income is subject to Social Security taxation and also used to calculate future benefits,â he notes. âIf you are earning less than that figure, consider a second job or side hustle to increase your contributions into the system and youâll be setting yourself up for a larger future benefit.â

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How Are Your Social Security Benefits Calculated

Social Security uses your highest 35 years of earnings, indexed to a national average wage index, to calculate your primary insurance amount If you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, each year with no earnings will be entered as zero. You can increase your Social Security benefit at any time by replacing a zero or low-income year with a higher-income year.

There is a maximum Social Security benefit amount you can receive, though it depends on the age you retire. For someone at full retirement age in 2022, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,345. For someone filing at age 70, the maximum monthly amount is $4,194. And for someone retiring early, at age 62, the maximum monthly benefit is $2,364.

To estimate your benefits, use the Social Securitys online Retirement Estimator.

How Do You Become Eligible For Social Security Benefits

To be eligible for Social Security benefits in retirement, you must earn at least 40 “credits” throughout your career. You can earn up to four credits each year, so it takes 10 years of work to qualify for Social Security.

In 2022, you must earn $1,510 to get one Social Security work credit and $6,040 to get the maximum four credits for the year. And yes, that means that it is possible to have money withheld for Social Security and never get it back. The minimum is the minimum.

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