Continuing our discussion on Social Security, Kim dives into the basics for married couples. What options do you have? What is the appropriate time frame for taking benefits? What happens if one spouse dies? This video offers up answers to these questions and more.
Social Security for Married Couples Transcript
Hi. Welcome to Technical Tuesday with Financial Services Advisory. I’m Kim Scott, and I’ll be your host today. Today we’re going to talk about Social Security for married couples. Now if you haven’t seen our basic rules video, I would suggest you go back and watch that first as that’s where we define various rules for Social Security, timing for when to take it and what that means. But today we’re going to actually dive into strategies for married couples.
As a married spouse, you have two options for your benefit. You always have the right to either 100% of your own benefit or 50% of your spouse’s benefit at their full retirement age. One thing to note with that – in order to receive your spouse’s benefit, they also have to be receiving income. So let’s say you file for your benefit first, but half of theirs is actually higher. The Social Security office would actually give you yours for the time being, and then once they’ve filed for their benefit, you would get a little step-up in your benefit at that time.
Okay, let’s talk time frames for taking your benefit. There’s age 62 which is the earliest you can take it, and as we mentioned in our basic video, you would take a reduced benefit at that point. So any time before your full retirement age you would be taking a reduced benefit for the rest of your life. Then there’s full retirement age. That’s where you get your full benefit or half of your spouse’s full retirement age benefit. So then there’s that time period between your full retirement age and your age 70. So your benefit would grow by 8 percent per year for every year that you wait up until age 70. However, your spousal benefit, the half that you would receive based off your spouse’s benefit, that stops growing at your full retirement age so there isn’t really a benefit if you’re going to be taking that to wait beyond your full retirement age.
One thing to note is that if one of the spouses were to pass away the other one will receive the higher of the two benefits, so that’s something to keep in mind as you consider which one of you should file when and who should potentially maximize their benefit.
Also another note, if you were born before January 2 of 1954, you may have some additional strategies that are available to you that are specific to your situation, so I would say either contact someone or reach out to us and we’re happy to discuss that with you. Okay, so when does it make sense for you to file?
Now if you guys have a little bit longer of a life expectancy or at least one of you expects to live beyond the mid-80s, it may make sense for one of you to maximize your benefit and wait till age 70. That way if something were to happen to one of you, there’s at least the maximized benefit to continue on. Now if you both have longevity in your families and you expect to live let’s say well into your 90s, it may make sense for you both to wait until age 70 and maximize your benefits.
Now Social Security can get pretty complicated, so if you have any questions about your specific situation, please feel free to give us a call or email us. For now, I’m Kim Scott, and this has been Technical Tuesday.