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

April 6, 2017 • By

Last Updated: April 6, 2017

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.


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About the Author

Suze Orman is an award-winning personal finance expert.

Comments

  1. Andrea D.

    If husband and wife both receive social security and one dies is the other entitled to spouse social security?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Andrea, thank you for your question. The amount of a widow(er)s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of the person who died, when the deceased worker started receiving their benefits, the survivors age at the time of their spouse’s death, and the amount of the survivors own retirement benefit.

      We will compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit at the time of your spouse’s passing, you would be eligible for survivor benefits.

      Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount.

      For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our Survivors Planner.

  2. Benjamin N.

    Me and my spouse are both working.So we all have retirement income when we reach age 62.If I pass way,will she get my social security benefits,even though she has her own?

  3. Richard P.

    I turned 63 on December 22, 2018 and my estimated monthly social security is at $1933/month. If I decide to start collecting on November 1st of 2019 will that be prorated? Or will it be the same until I turn 64?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Richard, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. To compute the effect on your benefit amount if you file for early or delayed retirement benefits, use the Early or Late Retirement Calculator.

  4. Allen R.

    I just retired a couple months ago because of health issues at the age of 63. I had an old house I gave to my daughter that’s still in my name. She wanted to sell it and have me give her the money. I think it was about 30,000 dollars. Will that effect my SS check in anyway? I think. I’m allowed 14,000 a year above the 1901 check I receive every month. Thank you ! Allen Russell

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Allen, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. When we figure out how much to deduct from your benefits, we count only the wages you make from your job or your net profit if you’re self-employed.

  5. Ruth N.

    I have the minimum credits to retire at a minimum wage. I am 62 and 11 months. What would my benefits be?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ruth. Good news! You can use our Online Retirement Estimator to obtain estimates on your future retirement benefits. You can also create a personal my Social Security account review estimates of your retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, your earnings record, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. We hope this helps.

  6. Linda M.

    I’m effective on Medicare 3/1/2019 and covered under my spouse group plan. How does the coordination of benefits work?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Linda. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about your account in this venue. To get additional information on Medicare benefits, check out Medicare‘s website. For more information about coordination of benefits, you may wish contact your insurance provider or your local Medicare SHIP (State Health Insurance Program Coordinator) . We hope this helps.

  7. Mathia t.

    My husband is 89 years old and is drawing social security. I am 66 years old and I also draw social security. When he dies, can I draw his social security check? His check is almost double the amount of mine. I am not drawing off his check. Can I switch over to his check instead of mine?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Mathia, thank you for your question. The amount of your widows benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of the person who died, when the deceased worker started receiving their benefits, your age at the time of your spouse’s death, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit at the time of your spouse’s passing, you would be eligible for survivor benefits.

      Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our Survivors Planner.

  8. Ramon M.

    IF I were to pass away before my legal age of retirement. Would my wife still be able to collect my retirement benefits.

  9. Ellen C.

    Hello. I am turning 66 this March which is my full retirement age. My husband is 63 and getting disability ss benefits. Should I be taking his benefit and letting mine grow as his benefit is more than mine. I am anxious because I need to make up my mind by my birthday . Any help would be appreciated.

  10. Orlando v.

    Im collecting my deceace wife social security benefit. Do i have to file a claim with irs? For tax purpose

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Orlando. Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits. See our Benefits Planner: Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits for more information. For any income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. We hope this helps.

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