Your Social Security benefits are more flexible if you’re married or divorced after at least ten years of marriage.
To put it simply, it may be more advantageous to claim your spouse’s benefits based on their work history than to claim your own benefits.
More money will be available to you if your spouse is better off financially than you are.
However, you must be aware of a few exceptions to the general rules that apply to these benefits. Three of them are here.
1. Early filing penalties reduce your monthly income
A spouse’s standard benefit could be worth as much as half of the spousal benefit this is the amount your partner would receive at their full retirement age.
For example, if your spouse is eligible for $1,500 a month in spousal benefits, you may be eligible for up to $750 a month.
However, it’s important to remember that this is the maximum. If you begin receiving spousal benefits before your full retirement age, you will receive significantly less.
You don’t have to worry about how old your partner is. Because of early filing penalties, your monthly Social Security check may be reduced to as little as 32.5% of your partner’s standard benefit if they claim benefits at FRA but you begin receiving payments at age 62 or later.
Make sure you’re aware of this major drawback before you begin your checks early.
2. You can’t claim spousal benefits until your spouse has received their benefits.
However, if your spouse has been postponing filing for their own benefits, you may be in for some disappointment when you finally do file.
This is due to the fact that you cannot file a claim until the primary earner begins receiving their own Social Security retirement funds.
If you have been divorced for at least two years and are claiming spousal benefits, this rule does not apply to you.
Others, on the other hand, will be forced to wait for retirement checks based on the work history of a friend.
However, you can still claim your own retirement benefits while you wait until you’re at least 62 years old to do so.
When the lower-earning spouse begins receiving benefits first, it allows the higher-income spouse to delay filing for benefits and avoid paying penalties on the larger monthly benefit.
3. Despite the fact that your spouse is eligible for delayed retirement credits, you are not.
It is possible for the primary earner to receive more money than their standard benefit amount by claiming benefits based on their own work history.
By delaying retirement until they reach the Full Retirement Age, they are able to do this. Up to an additional 8% of a standard benefit can be gained for every year you delay taking advantage of the credits available until you are 70 years old.
Pensioners receiving spousal benefits cannot increase their checks by delaying receipt of the additional income, even if it makes sense for the primary earner to do so.
For spousal benefits, delayed retirement credits are not available because the primary earner’s standard benefit cannot exceed 50%.
Delaying the onset of spousal benefits past the age at which you are eligible for full retirement has no advantages because there is no incentive to wait. If your spouse hasn’t claimed their own benefits yet, you may still have to wait.
If you want to make an informed decision about when your spousal benefits will begin, you must understand the implications of all three rules. Consult with your spouse to come up with Social Security decisions that are best for both of you.
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