Social Security Matters: Ask Rusty – Will I Get Spousal Benefits?

Dear Rusty:  What percentage, if any, should I be able to collect on my husband’s Social Security benefits? He started his at full retirement age and I’m turning 62 in 3 months (born 1957). I did work and am eligible to collect on my own work record. Half of his benefit would be approximately $300 more a month than I would collect with my own benefit. I am not currently working and do not have plans to go back to work. When I called the SS office to make an appointment, I asked this same question and the person I spoke with said I couldn’t collect on my spouse. I have a friend who told me his wife did get some extra benefit from his Social Security and she also worked.  Signed: Inquiring Mind

Dear Inquiring:   Not everyone is automatically entitled to spousal benefits, and everyone doesn’t get 50 percent of the higher earning spouse’s benefit amount. Whether or not you are eligible depends upon how much your benefit on your own work record is at your full retirement age, compared to half of your husband’s benefit at his full retirement age (FRA). And if you take benefits at age 62, both your own benefit and your spousal benefit will be reduced. Born in 1957, your benefit at age 62 from your own work record will be reduced by 27.5 percent from what it would be at 66 ½ (your full retirement age). Because you’re taking the spousal benefit early (you’ll be deemed to be filing for spousal benefits when you claim your own) you won’t get 50 percent of your husband’s FRA benefit, rather it will be reduced. Here’s how you can figure out your total benefit at age 62, and whether you will get a spousal benefit in addition to your own.  


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