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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Oct 23, 2013.

Question

My wife is 3.5 years younger than me, was the lower wage earner, and started collecting social security at age 62. I plan to not collect until age 70. If at full retirement age, can she receive 50% of my benefits if I apply and suspend?

Answer

When and how to take Social Security is a very important decision and you need to make sure you understand all the implications.

If your wife is still working and she is under Age 66, if she earns more than $15,120 in 2013, a portion of her Social Security benefit will need to be returned. The calculation is $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above $15,120. (The 2014 amount has not been announced yet.)

Also if your wife claims her Social Security benefits at age 62, there is a substantial permanent reduction of the benefit than if she waited until she was 66. At 66, her benefit will be the higher under her account or one-half your full retirement amount.

For you to get your maximum benefits at age 70, you can apply at 66, then suspend. This will allow your wife to get one-half of your benefits.

These rules can be complicated. Please pick up SSA Publication No. 05-10035 (Retirement Benefits) and SSA Publication No. 05-10147 (When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits) to read more about this.


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