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Will I Get Spousal Benefits When My Husband Takes His Social Security Retirement Benefit?


Today’s Social Security column addresses questions about when spousal benefits may be available and how they can be paid, marriage and disability benefits and potential reductions due to filing early. Larry Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc.

See more Ask Larry answers here.

Have Social Security questions of your own you’d like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.

Will I Get Spousal Benefits When My Husband Takes His Social Security Retirement Benefit?

Hi Larry, I started drawing my Social Security retirement benefit at 62. My husband is planning to take his retirement benefit at 66. Will I get a spousal benefit based on his record instead of my own retirement benefit? Thanks, Arlene

Hi Arlene, You won’t stop getting your own retirement benefits when your husband starts drawing his retirement benefits, but you may be able to qualify for an additional partial, or excess, spousal benefit from his account.

Once you start drawing your own Social Security retirement benefits, those benefits continue for life. If you later become eligible for a higher benefit on someone else’s account, Social Security pays a partial benefit from that account in addition to the person’s own benefit.

You’ll only qualify for additional spousal benefits if your husband’s primary insurance amount (PIA) 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 (FRA).

You and your husband may want to consider using my company’s software — Maximize My Social Security or MaxiFi Planner — to fully analyze your options so you can make informed decisions about your best strategy for maximizing your benefits and avoid unknowingly leaving money on the table. Social Security calculators provided by other companies or non-profits may provide proper suggestions if they were built with extreme care. Best, Larry

Is There Any Way That Getting Married Could Cause Social Security To Reduce My Monthly Check?

Hi Larry, I’m 53 and I receove Social Security disability. I would like to marry my boyfriend. Could there be any consequences if I marry him? Will SSA reduce my monthly check? Thanks, Glenda

Hi Glenda, As long as what you’re receiving are Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits, marriage won’t affect your benefits. A person’s SSDI benefit rate is the same regardless of whether or not they’re married.

If you were receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), though, then getting married could cause your SSI benefits to stop or be reduced. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are needs based. And if an SSI recipient marries, their spouse’s income and resources could cause them be be ineligible for SSI. Best, Larry

How Will It Affect My Social Security Payment If I Start Drawing At Age 65 1/2?

Hi Larry, I was born in December 1956. If I claim retirement benefits at 65 1/2, how much will that affect my Social Security check? Thanks, Tim

Hi Tim, Based on your birth date, your full retirement age (FRA) is 66 and 4 months. So if you start drawing your Social Security retirement benefits at 65 1/2, you’d be starting 10 months prior to FRA.

People who start drawing their benefits at FRA receive 100% of their primary insurance amount (PIA). But if you start drawing 10 months before FRA, you’ll be paid roughly 94.4% of your PIA instead. Best, Larry

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