What Are the Most Common Retirement Questions You Receive about Social Security?

Suze OrmanThere are two big questions I hear plenty.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


354 thoughts on “What Are the Most Common Retirement Questions You Receive about Social Security?

  1. I’m 66 and retired on PERS retirement and on Medicare. I payed a little into SS but don’t have enough credits to collect anything. My wife is 63 and working but not collecting SS yet. Is it possible for me to tap into hers to pay for my part I pay for my Medicare?

    • Hi Brad, thank you for using our blog. If you are not eligible for Medicare on your own record, there are certain conditions where you may be able to receive Medicare as a spouse based on your wife’s work record. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 to inquire or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  2. How does anyone who’s been w/o a steady home or living space for 10 yrs being disabled that long & too many rounds of court as Judge got to watch me as my kids also watched in horror to see the system not work .
    How does anyone get help after ive had as much taken from me possible I at least have a backpay at SS and to get it for a vehicle for a place to live I put in faxed to them at the office so security office about getting some backpay so that I could finish my move I got no response at all and I was told they never even received it when I have the confirmation page nothing ever makes it to the local office even for months later it doesn’t make it I just want to know how anyone gets backpay to be able to find a place to live or purchase put a down payment on something so I can’t afford to survive I know you’re not meant to but I’m trying very hard to at least left my last years out .
    And answer that someone has honestly tried already and it gone through and how long and how they did it would be great thank you I appreciate you very much God bless you have a great day

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