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Calculating Social Security Spousal Benefits with Dual Entitlement

Social Security is a government program serving about 65 million people, so you might use one word to describe it: complicated. Hats off to the Social Security Administration , though. It produces one of the best government websites, using plain English to explain its rules. It also has plenty of calculators and worksheets to help.

We pulled together some of our favorites. Keep this list handy next time youre sifting through the maze of Social Security rules and regulations. You wont need all 11, but some of them will likely help answer some of your questions as you start to plan.

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Do You Plan To Continue Working In Your 60s

Working in your 60s will help you maximize your income and savings.

Your benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings. Each year of work can add higher earnings to your record by replacing years with low earnings such as those when you were a student, were unemployed, or took time off to care for someone. When you work and wait to claim until age 70, you can increase your monthly benefit by more than 75 percent! Working in your 60s also gives you more time to save on your own for retirement.Review your earnings record on my SocialSecurity.

Working in your 60s will help you maximize your income and savings.

Your benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings. Each year of work can add higher earnings to your record by replacing years with low earnings such as those when you were a student, were unemployed, or took time off to care for someone. When you work and wait to claim until age 70, you can increase your monthly benefit by more than 75 percent! Working in your 60s also gives you more time to save on your own for retirement.Review your earnings record on my SocialSecurity.

You can maximize your benefits even if you work fewer hours or stop working.

You can maximize your benefits even if you work fewer hours or stop working.

Consider working in your 60s for an extra boost to your income and savings.

Consider working extra years in your 60s for an extra boost to your income and savings

Deemed Filing And Spousal Benefits

The Social Security Administration implemented the deemed filing rule to prevent double-dipping. Prior to the rule, if spousal benefits were higher than an individual benefit, the person could receive a combination of benefits equal to the higher benefit. Deemed filing keeps spouses from receiving one type of retirement benefit while also benefiting from delaying another type of benefit.

There are some exceptions to this rule, which would still allow you to apply for spousal benefits independent of your own retirement benefit. You might be eligible for an exception if you:

  • Were born before January 2, 1954
  • Are caring for a child under 16 or a child with disabilities
  • Are eligible for Social Security disability benefits

If youve already taken your retirement benefits and your spouse is receiving a spousal benefit, they can opt to switch over to their retirement benefit instead if they were born before January 2, 1954. In that situation, you could then apply for an additional spousal benefit on top of your regular benefit once their benefits kick in.

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How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get Social Security Survivor Benefits

A surviving spouse must have been married for at least one year to be eligible to receive their spouses Social Security death benefits. However, if the surviving spouse is the parent of the spouses child, the one-year rule is waived. A divorced spouse may be eligible to receive benefits if they were married to their former spouse for at least 10 years.

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Reduction For Early Filing

Social Security Benefits Calculator

If you file for a survivor benefit prior to your survivor full retirement age, your benefit as a survivor will be reduced.

Specifically, if you file as early as possible , then your benefit as a survivor will be 71.5% of what it would have been if you waited until your survivor FRA.

From there, your survivor benefit increases proportionately until you reach your survivor FRA. For example, if you file for your survivor benefit halfway between age 60 and full retirement age, the amount you receive will be 85.75% of the amount that would have received if you waited until FRA.

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Bonus: How Reductions Are Calculated On A Monthly Basis

One last thing I think is important for those who really want to grasp the fine details of this calculation is understanding how the reductions are calculated on a monthly basis since you may want to file in between birthdays.

There are three separate bands that you have to know about:

  • The band of 37+ months from full retirement age
  • The band of 1-36 months for full retirement age
  • After full retirement age.
  • For the band of more than 36 months away from FRA, the spousal payment and your own benefits are reduced the same. 5/12 of 1% per month.

    Within the band of 1-36 months before FRA, spousal benefits are reduced by 25/36 of 1% percent and your own benefits are reduced by 5/9 of 1%.

    After full retirement age spousal benefits are not increased at all but your own benefits are increased by 2/3 of one percent.

    I know weve covered A LOT of ground in this article but I hope its helpful when you are planning how to file for social security.

    Before you leave be sure to join my members group. Its currently at 9,000+ members and has some really smart people who love to answer any questions you may have about Social Security. From time to time Ill even drop in to add my thoughts, too. You should also consider joining the 273,000+ subscribers on my YouTube channel!

    My video on Spousal Benefits

    Social Security Spousal Benefits Explained

    • Social Security spousal benefits can pay an eligible spouse 50% of the partners benefit if it is higher than his or her own benefit. Claims can begin at age 62 but may be worth more at full retirement age. Read our Social Security review to learn more.

    Social security is complicated for individual filers, and being married can make it even more complicated. Thats because Social Security includes benefits for the spouse as well as the individual.

    When an individual files for retirement benefits, that persons spouse may be eligible for a benefit based on the workers earnings according to the Social Security Administration.

    In this Social Security review, we outline the rules for spousal benefits.

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    What About My Ex

    Spousal benefits for divorced spouses are affected by the Bipartisan Budget Act, too. Previously, divorced spouses who were married for 10 years or more could claim reduced auxiliary benefits from their exs record when they reached age 62, or full auxiliary benefits when they reached full retirement age, all while letting their own benefits grow. Thats no longer the case as of April 30, 2016.

    If youre divorced and you turn 62 on or before January 1, 2016, you can still file a Restricted Application and receive your divorced spousal benefits, waiting until age 70 to claim your primary retirement benefits. But those who arent in that age group will no longer be able to claim spousal benefits without claiming their primary benefits. Like still-married spouses, ex-spouses will be assumed to be claiming all their benefits when they first file.

    Note that a divorced spouse married for 10 years or more can claim full auxiliary benefits on their exs record at any age if he or she is caring for the dependent minor child of the ex-spouse.

    Also, the divorced spousal benefit for people whose ex-spouses are still alive is lower than the divorced widows benefit.

    If you remarry, it doesnt keep your ex from being eligible to claim benefits on your record. But having an ex who is claiming benefits on your record wont keep your new spouse from being able to claim benefits either.

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    Section : Pensioners Dental Services Plan

    Social Security Spousal Benefits: The Easy Calculation

    The Pensioners Dental Services Plan offers dental services coverage to survivors of former public service pensioners who are eligible for this coverage. If you are entitled to a public service survivors pension and are eligible for the PDSP, the Pension Centre will provide you with an information booklet and enrollment form. To have immediate coverage, you must enroll within 60 days from the date you are notified of your pension entitlement. Otherwise, coverage will be effective on the first day of the second month following the date the application is received at the Pension Centre. For more information, contact the Pension Centre.

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    How Do I Increase My Social Security Benefits After Retirement

    To increase your monthly benefit, don’t start taking Social Security payments right when you reach full retirement age. The longer you wait, the more you’ll get each month. If you want to get the highest possible amount of Social Security benefits each month, you need to wait until age 70 to retire.

    What About The Lump

    The lump-sum Social Security death benefit is a one-time payment of $255. If a person is already claiming spousal benefits at the time their spouse dies, that person does not need to submit a separate application for the lump-sum Social Security death benefit. The $255 will automatically be credited. Dependent children, though, will need to apply to receive the $255 payment.

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    Are Social Security Benefits Taxable

    If you have a lot of income from other sources, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable income. If the combination of your Social Security benefits and other income is below $25,000, your benefits wonât be taxed at all. The amount of your benefits that is subject to taxes is calculated on a sliding scale based on your income. Money that Social Security recipients pay in income taxes on their benefits goes back into funding Social Security and Medicare.

    If your retirement income is high enough that your benefits are taxable, how do you pay those benefits? You can ask Social Security for an IRS Voluntary Withholding Request Form if youâd like the government to withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits. Otherwise, youâre expected to file quarterly tax returns to pay these taxes over the course of the year.

    That covers federal income taxes. What about state income taxes? That depends. In 12 states, your Social Security benefits will be taxed as income, either in whole or in part the remaining states do not tax Social Security income.

    Your Government Pension May Affect Social Security Benefits

    What You Need to Know About Social Security and Retirement Benefits

    The Government Pension Offset, or GPO, affects spouses, widows, and widowers with pensions from a federal, state, or local government job. It reduces their Social Security benefits in some cases.

    If you receive a pension from a government job but did not pay Social Security taxes while you had the job, well reduce your Social Security spouse, widow, or widower benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. This offset is known as the GPO.

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    When Will You Collect

    The SSA calculates your benefit amount at your full retirement age . This depends on the year you were born. FRA by birth year is:

    • 19431954: age 66
    • 1955: age 66 and two months
    • 1956: age 66 and four months
    • 1957: age 66 and six months
    • 1958: age 66 and eight months
    • 1959: age 66 and 10 months
    • 1960 and later: age 67

    Select Looks At Four Online Tools That Can Help People Figure Out When They Should Collect Benefits

    Choosing when to collect your Social Security benefits can have a large impact on your standard of living in retirement, especially if you didn’t save enough on your own. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security benefits represent 30% of retirement income for the elderly. Deciding when to collect is a complicated task you’ll have to consider factors like your spouse, your other sources of retirement income, your health status and the cost of Medicare deductions.

    Online tools, however, exist to make that task a little bit easier. There are a number of free and paid services out there to help people figure out when to collect their benefits.

    “Because SSA maintains a neutral stance on the claiming decision, many other government, academic, nonprofit, and private groups have developed Social Security benefit calculators and tools for analyzing retirement finances to provide clarity on individuals’ retirement decisions,” states a 2016 report by the Social Security Administration. “The calculators may be very informative for older workers who have an established earnings record, but less so for younger workers whose future earnings may be unpredictable.”

    Below, Select highlights four online Social Security free and fee-based tools that people can use to figure out when to collect benefits.

    Our best selections in your inbox. Shopping recommendations that help upgrade your life, delivered weekly. Sign-up here.

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    What If I Change My Mind

    If you receive Social Security benefits at a reduced rate but then change your mind, you have the option of withdrawing your application within the first 12 months of receiving benefits and paying back to the government what you’ve already received . Then, you could restart benefits at a later date to take advantage of a higher payout. Be aware that you’re limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.

    For example, let’s say you elected to receive early benefits at age 62 but then decided to go back to work at age 63. You could withdraw your Social Security application, pay back the years’ worth of benefits you received, go back to work, and then wait until your full retirement age to restart your benefit checks at a higher level.

    Once you reach full retirement age, another option is to voluntarily stop benefits at any point before age 70 to receive delayed retirement credits . Benefits will automatically restart at age 70 at a higher amountâunless you choose to start taking benefits before then. Note that when you withdraw your application or stop your benefits after full retirement age, you must specify if your Medicare coverageâif you have itâshould be included in the withdrawal.

    How Long Do You Receive Social Security Survivor Benefits

    How To Calculate Spousal Benefits (Without Missing One IMPORTANT Step)

    Social Security survivor benefits are payable to the surviving spouse for the remainder of their life. Restrictions apply for divorced spouses eligible to receive benefits.

    Benefits for surviving children end at age 18 or age 19 and 2 months if still pursuing their elementary or secondary education. For surviving children who became disabled before age 22, their benefits continue for life.

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    Chapter : Maximizing Your Benefit

    Many people ask can I collect my deceased spouses social security and my own at the same time? In fact, you cannot simply add together both a survivor benefit and your own retirement benefit. Instead, Social Security will pay the higher of the two amounts.

    Did you Know?

    If the benefit you would receive as a survivor is higher than your own earned benefit, Social Security pays the higher of the two amounts not the two combined.

    While it can seem unfair to not be able to claim both full benefits, there are claiming strategies you can use to maximize the total Social Security benefits you receive. This includes switching from one benefit to the other. See an example from one of our users directly below.

    Making the right decision on how to maximize your own benefits depends on how much your own retirement benefit vs. survivor benefit would be, and how long you think you will be living and needing the money. It also depends on whether youre working.

    • If you are already receiving spousal benefits when your spouse dies Social Security will convert your benefit to survivors benefits, which are up to 100% of your late spouses full retirement benefit .

    Why It Makes Sense For The Higher Earner To Wait Longer To Collect

    David and Linda are married. David’s primary insurance amount at full retirement age is $1,600 Linda’s is $1,450. They both have an FRA of 67.

    If they both wait until 68 to collect, which means their benefits will increase by 8%, David’s benefits will be $1,728 , and Linda’s will be $1,566 .

    That extra $12 per month means an extra $144 per year, or $2,880 over 20 years.

    In addition, the spouse who lives longer will continue to collect the higher payments.

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    What If I Delay Taking My Benefits

    If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit for your own benefits . For example, say you were born in 1960, and your full retirement age is 67. If you start your benefits at age 69, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by two . This means your benefit would be 16% higher than the amount you would have received at age 67.

    Can I Switch My Social Security Benefit To A Spousal Benefit

    When to Take Social Security: A Decision That Lasts a Lifetime

    Switching from your regular retirement benefit to a spousal benefit is something you might be interested in if youre hoping to maximize Social Security benefits. Whether you can make this switch is determined by whether your spouse is already receiving benefits.

    If your spouse is not receiving any retirement benefits yet, then you could technically take your regular Social Security benefit as early as age 62. When your spouse files for their benefit later you could switch to spousal benefits. That could potentially increase the total amount of benefits you receive as a couple if theyre waiting until age 70 to start taking benefits.

    What if your spouse is already receiving their Social Security benefits? In that situation, the deemed filing rule applies. That rule dictates that when someone applies for their regular retirement benefit, theyre also approved for spousal benefits if theyre entitled to receive them. So again, youd get the higher amount of the two.

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