Wednesday, September 18, 2019
By Barbara Pronin
The spousal benefits available through Social Security can be a huge benefit in retirement. Understanding how they work is the first step to making it work for you, whether you or not you worked yourself.
While checking with your financial advisor – or with Social Security – is always a good idea, the finance experts at The Motley Fool suggest five things every spouse should know:
You can receive up to half of your spouse’s benefits. If you’ve never worked but your spouse is entitled to Social Security, you can claim up to 50 percent of your spouse’s benefit if you wait until your full retirement age. (You can file earlier, but your benefit will be reduced).
You can claim spousal benefits even if you worked. If your benefit amounts to less than 50 percent of your spouse’s benefit at full retirement age, you can choose to receive the spousal benefit instead.
You can’t claim spousal benefits until your spouse starts collecting. You need to wait for your spouse to file before you can receive any benefit. But if you start collecting your own benefits, and you spouse’s benefits are higher, you can get bumped up to the higher amount once your spouse files for benefits.
Delaying a spousal benefit doesn’t pay. While the benefits based on your own work record grow each year that you delay taking them up to age 70, delayed retirement credits do not apply to spousal benefits, so it pays to file for them once you are at retirement age.
You can claim spousal benefits even if you’re no longer married. If you were married for at least 10 years, and have not remarried, you can claim spousal benefits even if your spouse has remarried. In fact, if you have been divorced for at least two years, and are at least 65, you can file for spousal benefits even if your former spouse has not yet filed for benefits.
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