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Claiming Social Security early? Here’s how spousal benefits come into play

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Claiming Social Security before full retirement age can trip up some people when it comes to spousal aids.

For starters, not all early filers can access those benefits right away, and even those who do may discover it doesn’t send into a bigger monthly check.

“A lot of folks get confused about the spousal benefit,” said David Freitag, a Collective Security expert and financial planning consultant with MassMutual. 

Part of the reason is that the rules applying to spousal improves for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1954, were changed under 2015 legislation.

“That’s when all of the creative place in order went away for younger [beneficiaries],”Freitag said.

While it can seem complicated, two things to remember about spousal forwards in general are:

  1. It is capped at 50% of the benefits your husband or wife would get at their full retirement age, and;
  2. You cannot equipped for those benefits unless your husband or wife is already receiving Social Security.

It’s also important to note that if your spouse wants, you would file for survivor benefits, not spousal benefits. (More on that farther below.) And if you were born in the presence of that 1954 cutoff date, you may have other strategies available to you as a spouse.

The nitty gritty

You may know that your own Societal Security benefits are reduced if you claim them before your full retirement age, which currently is either 66 or 67, depending on your parturition year. (Likewise, claiming anytime beyond that age means your benefits would be higher, growing by 8% perennial until you reach age 70.)

About 69% of the 43.7 million retired workers in 2018 received reduced benefits due to tapping them anterior to their full retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration. The earliest you can file for benefits is age 62.

However, your antediluvian filing would impact any spousal benefits you qualify for, as well, Freitag said.

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Odds and ends

Meanwhile, if your spouse is not already be telling benefits and you are applying for yours early, you don’t qualify for spousal benefits — yet.

When your spouse does file, you order be eligible for spousal benefits. However, because you filed early, you still wouldn’t be entitled to the full 50%.

“The spousal help would still be reduced because you claimed early,” Sherman said.

The spousal benefit would still be downgraded because you claimed early.

Peggy Sherman

Lead advisor at Briaud Financial Advisors

In other words, the merely way to be eligible for the full 50% of the full-retirement-age spousal benefit is to wait until your own full retirement age — and that be in effects true even if your spouse filed early, Sherman said.

If you are divorced and the marriage lasted at least 10 years, you can allege on your ex-spouse’s record if you have not remarried. The same 50% maximum would apply — if that share is uncountable than your own benefits when you file, you’d get the higher amount. (And, no, it has no impact on your ex’s benefits.)

Meanwhile, if your spouse passes away, you desire be eligible for survivor benefits, which are generally 100% of what your wife or husband had been receiving. If the amount is assorted than your monthly payments, you’d get the higher amount.

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