Posted by Flynn Financial Group Inc

What You Missed About Social Security Spousal Benefits

What You Missed About Social Security Spousal Benefits

The current or former marital partner is where the Social Security benefits go to if the spouse dies, but that depends on certain circumstances. To current spouses, widowed spouse, and ex-spouses is to whom the Social Security spouse benefit or “spousal benefit” will be available. 

Spousal Benefit Eligibility

Current spouses have the eligibility for the spousal benefit and also ex-spouses as long as you were married for over 10 years and did not remarry prior to the age 60. To file for or receive a spousal benefit, you must be at age 62. Until your spouse files for their own benefit, then you are not eligible to receive a spousal benefit. But there is a different rule that applies to ex-spouses. Even if your ex-partner has not yet filed for his or her own benefits, you can still receive a spousal benefit based on an ex-spouse’s record but your ex must be age 62 or older. 

How much will you get?

As a spouse, you can collect a spousal benefit that will provide you 50 percent of the amount of your spouse’s Social Security benefit as calculated at their full retirement age (FRA), or you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record. 

Since your FRA depends on your year of birth, you can check the Social Security website to know your accurate FRA. 

A spousal benefit based on your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s earnings or a benefit based on your own earnings is what you are automatically entitled to receive. Whichever the higher amount is, that is what the Social Security will pay after their calculations. 

After you reach FRA, if you were born on or before January 1, 1954, by filing a restricted application, you can choose to receive only the spousal benefit. Until a later date, you will have a delay receiving your own retirement benefits based on your earning records by doing this. You could switch from receiving a spousal benefit to receiving your own potentially higher benefit amount at age 70, for example. 

You will not be able to restrict your application and will only receive a spousal benefit if you were born on or after January 2, 1954, according to a recent Social Security law that went into effect November 2, 2015. When you file you will be automatically be deemed to be filing for all benefits for which you are eligible if you are born on or after January 2, 1954. 

The Impact of Early Retirement to Your Benefits

Your benefit will be permanently reduced if you collect a spousal benefit and began collecting it before you reach FRA. You may also owe some of your Social Security benefits back if you continue to work and receive earned income and you collect any type of benefit before your FRA. Without being subject to any reduction on benefits or penalties, you can collect Social Security and earn any amount from working once you reach FRA. 

If you take a spousal benefit early and your spouse takes Social Security early, you will have permanently reduced the survivor benefit for which either of you is eligible and you will be significantly reducing the benefits that may be paid out over your lifetime. 

By coordinating how and when they should each begin collecting benefits is how married couples can get more in Social Security. By using an advanced Social Security calculator, you can run these numbers yourself to see how it works. 

What Happens Once You Become a Widow or a Widower?

As early as age 60 and if you become a widow or widower, you can collect a survivor’s benefit. Restricting the application to file for either their own benefit or the widow/widower benefit and switch to the other benefit amount later is what widow and widowers can do. If your own benefit amount at age 70 would be larger than your widow benefit, then you might as well do this. At the age of 70, you can switch to your own benefit but you can claim the widow benefit before that. 

You will continue to receive your benefit or your spouse’s, but no both once you or your spouse start receiving Social Security benefits. In addition, upon the death of a spouse, a surviving spouse living in the same household is eligible to receive a one-time lump-sum payment of $255. 

A powerful form of life insurance is what it will be when married couples choose to maximize the highest-earning spouse’s benefit by having that person delay collecting until age 70. It provides $50,000 to $250,000 of life insurance benefits in many cases. 

By working together and making decisions that maximize their spousal and survival benefits is how married couples, in particular, can optimize their Social Security benefits. Too many couples end up getting less lifetime income since they overlook this strategy. 

Flynn Financial Group Inc
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