Strategy For Widowed Spouses
Widows and widowers may receive full benefits at their full retirement age or reduced benefits as early as age 60, as explained in the sections above. Remarrying after age 60 will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits. However, it may be more convenient for you to forego your widow or widower spousal benefits depending on your circumstances.
If your current spouse is also eligible for Social Security benefits and earns more than your former spouse, you may wish to apply for spousal benefits based on your new spouseâs record instead.
If you are collecting a survivor benefit, but also qualify for a benefit on your own, you may wish to collect a survivor benefit in the early years of retirement and leave your own Social Security benefits to accrue delayed retirement credits. Then, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as late as age 70.
Can I Work After Full Retirement Age
Yes. You can collect Social Security retirement benefits at full retirement age while continuing to work. If you begin collecting Social Security before your full retirement age and earn over a certain amount, your benefits will be temporarily reduced. When you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on how much you can earn while collecting full benefits.
Spousal Benefits For Widows And Widowers
A widow or widower can receive up to 100% of a spouse’s benefit amount. That’s if the survivor has reached full retirement age at the time of the application.
The payment is reduced to somewhere between 71% and 99% of the deceased’s entitlement if the widowed person is at least 60 but under full retirement age.
Disabled people can apply as early as age 50. The agency has a streamlined application process to avoid delays in the first payment.
You may be eligible for benefits even if your spouse died long before reaching retirement age. Every employee racks up annual Social Security “credits” for working. If your spouse earned credits for at least 10 years, a spousal benefit has been earned.
It’s important to note that it pays to hold off until you reach your “full” retirement age to maximize the amount you will receive.
Also, if you are receiving spousal benefits and your spouse dies, you need to notify Social Security. Your spousal benefit of 50% of your partner’s benefit will convert to a survivor benefit of 100%.
And do it promptly. It’s not usually retroactive.
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Question: 5 Is Anyone Else Able To Collect Benefits Off Of My Record
Answer: Yes. Your dependent parents may collect off your record presuming that you are deceased and that you were providing for more than 50 percent of their support prior to passing away. This is the least common family benefit that is available. 1 It is important to remember that a family member collecting a Social Security benefit off of your record will not reduce the benefit you are entitled to receive. Applying for the benefits you and your family are entitled to receive can add up to significant income for your family and help to relieve the pressure a life-changing event may have on your resources. We’ve spoken with many Aflac employees and retirees over the years, and we know that everyones situation is unique. There are complicated intricacies of Social Security benefits but luckily with the help of our professional financial advisors, we can help you determine when and how to apply for your benefits.
Applying For Spousal Benefits
You can apply for spousal benefits online at the Social Security Administration website, over the phone, or by making an appointment at your local Social Security office. The SSA website also has links to information about the maximum amount you can earn while collecting benefits and an online calculator to help estimate your potential spousal benefit.
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What Else You Should Know
Spousal benefits can increase your income, subjecting you to income taxes, and they can result in you failing Social Security’s earnings test if you’re younger than full retirement age and you continue working. Also, the government pension offset rule may kick in if you receive a government pension, reducing or potentially eliminating your spousal benefit entirely. The rules can get complex, so make sure you understand all your options before filing for your benefit.
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Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby
The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.
Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:
- Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
- Open a bank account in their name
- Get medical coverage for them
- Apply for government services for them
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What To Do If Your Spouse Passes Away
As a widow or widower, you are eligible to file for a survivors benefit once you turn 60. If you wish to let your own benefit keep growing, you can do that. You can choose to file for just your survivors benefit when you turn 60, then switch to your own benefit at a later date. You can also do the inverse of this. You can file for your own benefit first and then switch to your survivors benefit.
If your spouses passes away after one or both of you is already receiving benefits, then youll have a choice. You can either continue receiving your benefit or continue receiving your spouses benefit. If you were receiving a spousal benefit, then you would almost certainly choose to continue receiving your spouses benefit, as it would be much larger.
Spousal benefits is like almost any Social Security discussion. You will get the most out of the program if you coordinate with your spouse. Youll want to make sure the highest-earning spouse is waiting to maximize his or her benefits before filing.
Documents You Need To Apply
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.
How Much Is My Spouses Fra Benefit
So, lets say your spouse retires at his or her FRA and is eligible for a benefit of $1,600. Then, you would in turn be eligible at your FRA for $800. If you contributed to Social Security, you may wonder if your spousal benefit will be higher than your own benefit. Thankfully, you dont need to worry.
Spouses Can Get Benefits Even If They Didnt Work
Another feature of Social Security spousal benefit is that you can claim spousal benefits even if you never worked.
For most people, in order to receive Social Security benefits, you have to pay into the system.
However, there is an exception to that rule.
If your husband or wife is eligible for benefits, you can receive spousal benefits in retirement even if youve never personally worked and paid Social Security taxes.
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Social Security Rules For Nonworker Spouses
Many Americans qualify for Social Security due to their marriage history, even if their work history is nonexistent. If you are ineligible to claim your own benefits, you may be able to receive benefits based on your spouses record once you turn 62, or earlier if youre raising your spouses child who is younger than 16 or disabled.
Nonworking spouses are entitled to 50% of the workings spouses retirement benefit once they reach their own full retirement age . Note: the FRA is the age at which an individual is entitled to the full amount of their own SS benefit, if they qualify. For most people born after 1954, the FRA is between 66 and 67 years old. View the table below to see how a spousal benefit of $500 at FRA could be reduced by as much as 35% if it were claimed at 62.
Although you can claim spousal Social Security as early as 62so long as your working spouse has already claimed his or her own SS benefitclaiming your benefit before you reach your own FRA will lead to a smaller monthly benefit. Your benefit amount will be reduced based on the number of months you claimed early specifically, spousal benefits are reduced 25/36 of 1% per each month claimed early up until 36 months and 5/12 of 1% per each month exceeding 36.
Social Security Survivor Benefits
When your spouse dies, you may be eligible for survivor benefits. You may also be eligible for your ex-spouses survivor benefits if you were married for at least 10 years or you care for their child whos younger than 16 or disabled.
Survivor benefits are as much as 100% of the benefit the deceased worker was receiving when they died. If the person died before claiming benefits, the survivor benefit is based on their primary insurance amount.
To qualify for the full benefit, you still have to wait until your full retirement age. However, you can claim benefits as early as age 60 . If you claimed survivor benefits as soon as youre eligible at age 60, youd only receive 71.5% of your late spouses benefit. Surviving spouses or ex-spouses who are caring for a child younger than 16 or who has a disability can receive 75% of the deceased workers benefit.
If you remarry before age 60 , you wont qualify for survivor benefits. However, if you remarry after age 60 , remarrying wont jeopardize your survivor benefits.
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Second Change: Voluntary Suspension Of Benefits
Before the change:
- A worker at full retirement age or older applied for retirement benefits and then voluntarily suspended payment of their retirement benefits.
- The workers voluntary suspension permitted a spousal benefit to be paid to their spouse while the worker was not collecting retirement benefits.
- The worker would then restart their retirement benefits later, for example at age 70, with an increase for every month retirement benefits were suspended.
How did the law change?
For requests submitted on or after April 30, 2016:
- You can still voluntarily suspend benefit payments at your full retirement age to earn higher benefits for delaying.
- During a voluntary suspension, other benefits payable on your record, such as benefits to your spouse, are also suspended.
- If you have suspended your benefits, you cannot continue receiving other benefits on another persons record.
There are some exceptions. If you are a divorced spouse, you can continue receiving a divorced spousal benefit even if your ex-spouse voluntarily suspends his or her retirement benefit.
What is the reason for this change? It makes it fair to delay payments for the workers spouse, and dependents if the worker has not retired or is in suspense. Couples can no longer simultaneously receive a benefit and get a bonus for delaying to file.
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File And Suspend Has Been Totally Eliminated
You may also hear or read about another Social Security claiming strategy known as file and suspend. Unfortunately, it is no longer applicable, also due to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Using this strategy, the higher-earning spouse could file for Social Security at full retirement age , but then suspend his or her claim and not take benefits until later, while racking up delayed retirement credits in the meantime.
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Can I Collect Half Of My Spouse’s Social Security At 62
Not quite. The percentage of your spouse’s Social Security that you receive starts at 32.5% at age 62 and steps up gradually to 50% at your full retirement age, 66 or 67, depending on your year of birth. The amount is based on your spouse’s benefit at full retirement age.
The important point is this: Don’t bother delaying past your full retirement age. The amount you receive won’t grow beyond that age.
Strategies For Claiming A Spousal Benefit
Social Security offers quite a few options for how to claim your benefits, and while the options are meant to give flexibility to retirees and others, they do create more complexity. Everyone wants to get all the benefits theyre entitled to, and this complexity might obscure an avenue to receiving more money from the program. Spouses have a few ways to proceed here, and the best course of action often depends on your personal financial situation.
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Important Facts About Social Security Spousal Benefits
- Length of marriage is important
- You may be eligible for up to half of your spouses retirement benefit amount
- Other benefits could reduce spousal benefits
- You must wait until your spouse collects benefits before claiming spousal benefits
- Length of marriage is important
- Its possible to claim spousal benefits even if you also worked yourself
- You can claim spousal benefits even if youre divorced
- Widows and widowers can claim spousal benefits
- Spousal benefits dont grow by deferment
Social Security spousal benefits can be a major financial help during retirement, whether you never worked at all or if you worked but werent the higher earner in your household so it literally pays to familiarize yourself with how spousal benefits work. In general, the Social Security Administration allows a non-working spouse to draw a maximum spousal benefit equal to 50 percent of the higher-earning spouses Social Security retirement benefit amount, though there are some parameters you should be familiar with.
There are several important things to keep in mind when claiming spousal benefits the key points are outlined below.
You May Be Eligible For Up To Half Of Your Spouses Retirement Benefit Amount
Even if you never worked yourself, you may be eligible to draw benefits based on your spouses work record, as long as he or she is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, youre likely eligible to claim 50% of your spouses Social Security retirement benefits amount at his or her full retirement age. For example, if your current spouse is eligible for a $1200 monthly Social Security payment at full retirement age, you would be eligible for a $600 monthly Social Security benefit at your full retirement age.
But keep in mind that, just as with conventional Social Security benefits, you only get the full amount if you wait until your full retirement age. While you can file for spousal benefits as early as age 62, youll get less than your full benefit amount at that point. It makes sense to wait, if possible, until your full retirement age before claiming your spousal benefits.
Theres another benefit you might consider: Not only are you entitled to an amount equal to 50% of your higher-earning spouses benefit, but you also are eligible to free, premium Medicare Part A coverage when you reach age 65. Theres one catch, though your spouse must be at least age 62 for you to qualify for this benefit. So, if youre more than three years older than your spouse, you may need to purchase your own Part A policy until your spouse reaches age 62.
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You Must Wait Until Your Spouse Collects Benefits Before Claiming Spousal Benefits
Even if youre eligible for spousal benefits, you have to wait until your spouse files to receive benefits before you can receive any money based on his or her work record. If your spouse keeps working after retirement at a lowered capacity, yet doesnt choose to begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits, you must wait as well. But if youre eligible for Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record, you can go ahead and begin receiving those. If your Social Security spousal benefit amount is higher, you get to bump up to that amount once your spouse begins receiving benefits.
This is a relatively recent change to the guidelines around spousal benefits. Until 2016, a working spouse could file for benefits, then suspend receipt of them, which would allow a non-working or lower earning spouse to begin collecting spousal benefits early. But that loophole was closed with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which went into effect in April of 2016.