What Are the Most Common Retirement Questions You Receive about Social Security?Reading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: April 6, 2017
There are two big questions I hear plenty.
- My husband wants to retire at 62 and start taking Social Security. Is that okay?
This typically comes up because husbands are often a few years older than their wives, and figure they want to “get their money’s worth” by taking Social Security as early as possible. I think that can be a bad move. Unless you have oodles of money to live on in retirement, you — as a couple — want to maximize your Social Security payout for the longest surviving spouse. It’s important to understand that when one spouse dies, the other spouse is entitled to just one Social Security payment. So you want the surviving spouse to have the biggest possible benefit. Here’s how: Whichever spouse is the higher earner (and thus eligible for a bigger Social Security benefit) should delay taking Social Security at least until their Full Retirement Age (FRA), which is between age 66 and 67, depending on the year you were born.
Your FRA benefit is 25 to 30 percent higher than the benefit you can get at age 62. Even better is to have the high earner wait all the way until age 70. The benefit if you start then is more than 65 percent higher than the benefit you are entitled to at age 62. While the high-earner should wait as long as possible, the other spouse can start earlier, but I always encourage both spouses to delay as long as possible.
- I am getting divorced and haven’t worked full time. Am I going to be able to get Social Security?
If you were married at least 10 years you will be eligible for Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record. Your receiving a benefit will have no impact on the benefit your ex is eligible for.
There are a few caveats to understand about how this works. Most important, you can’t make a claim on an ex-spouse’s record if you remarry. (It doesn’t matter if your ex remarried.) You also need to be at least 62 years old. You can learn more about that here.
SSA does not endorse any particular financial advisory product or service.
Tags: full retirement age, retirement benefits, Social Security benefitsSee Comments
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I’m a 62 year old man. My FRA is 66 and 8 months. If I decide to retire and take my social security at 65 and then decide to go back to work periodically would I have to stay under the $17,000 limit and if I don’t would I have a penalty?
Hi Ron, thanks for using our blog. You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age in 2021, the earnings limit is $50,520 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2021, that limit is $18,960.
Visit our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.
Hi, I just filed for retirement and will be getting my first SS penson check in a few weeks. My cousin told me that I can reverse it, stop getting SS pension and re-apply after I reach my FRA? I was born in June 1958.
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Suze Orman, Personal Finance Expert
Suze Orman is an award-winning personal finance expert.