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Claiming Social Security Spousal Benefits? Avoid This Costly Mistake



Claiming Social Security Spousal Benefits? Avoid This Costly Mistake

Many people assume that if they never worked, they can’t collect Social Security benefits. However, if you’re married to someone eligible for retirement benefits from Social Security, you may be entitled to spousal benefits. Similarly,

Claiming Social Security Spousal Benefits? Avoid This Costly Mistake

if you were married to someone in that situation, you can claim spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. But when it comes to claiming these benefits, there’s one mistake you’ll want to avoid.

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Sign Up at Your Full Retirement Age (FRA)

When filing for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record, delaying your claim past FRA can increase your monthly benefit by 8% per year, up to age 70.

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However, this doesn’t apply to spousal benefits. There’s no increase for waiting, and once you reach FRA, you’re entitled to your full spousal benefit, which is 50% of your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s eligible amount. So there’s no financial incentive to delay claiming your spousal benefit beyond FRA.

Reduced Benefits for Early Filing

Filing for your spousal benefit before reaching FRA will result in a reduced benefit, just like claiming Social Security based on your own earnings record. You can file for Social Security at age 62, but doing so will mean accepting a lower monthly payment for life. Therefore, if your FRA is 67, it’s best to start taking your spousal benefits at that exact age, without any further delay.

Understand the Rules

Social Security rules can be complex, but it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with them as you approach retirement. Even if you’re eligible for benefits based on your own earnings history, you may still qualify for a spousal benefit if it results in a higher monthly payment. Keep in mind that you can’t collect both your personal benefit and a spousal benefit – you’ll receive the larger of the two.

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Don’t miss out on valuable Social Security benefits by making the mistake of delaying your spousal benefit claim unnecessarily. Understanding the rules and timing your claim correctly can make a significant financial difference in your retirement.

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