Understanding Social Security Spousal Benefits
- October 21, 2015
- Social Security
Did you know there is an automatic spousal benefit that entitles you to half of your spouse’s Social Security retirement benefit?
We tend to think of this option in instances where a spouse worked primarily in the home or had lower earnings. But there are actually ways we can take advantage of some of these benefits.
What a lot of people don’t know is that I can draw off of my wife’s benefit to get half of her benefit, and if I wait until I’m full retirement age to do that, it doesn’t affect my benefit.
In other words, if my benefits total $2,000 a month and hers is $1,800 a month, at full retirement age, I can draw half of hers, which would be $900 a month. Meanwhile, my $2,000 continues to go up as if I’m not drawing benefits. It’s unbelievable. I’m going to get a 32 percent increase in my benefit from age 66 to age 70, but at the same time, I can draw half of my wife’s benefit. That’s an awesome opportunity.
In order to draw spousal benefit, the spouse has to be drawing, but you can file and suspend to get around that rule.
If you’re married or if you were married for at least 10 years and now divorced, you get those same benefits as if you were married. You have to provide some form of proof, whether it’s a marriage certificate and divorce decree.
There are great opportunities to maximize benefits where you can delay and get what, ultimately, is a 76 percent increase in benefits from age 62 to 70, while drawing some benefits.
So it’s not as cut and dry as delay, delay, delay. Can you afford to put off benefits? Then, you’re subject to a Medicare premium increase if you’re not drawing your benefits.
There are a lot of factors to consider. Remember, Social Security election is the foundation of your income plan in retirement.