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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.


  1. Rafael P.

    I am 77 years old and getting SS, how much money can make from investments before affecting my SS amont

  2. Laura M.

    Question: If I was only married 8 years but lived with my ex husband for 5 years before marriage can I still get half of his social security at 66?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Laura, thank you for your question. Your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer to qualify for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Check out our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

  3. Thomas D.

    How would I find out if my ex-wife’s SS disability is more then what my SS is? If hers is lower then mine, I still keep my SS, correct?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Thomas. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  4. Joanne E.

    I am divorced, 65 years Old and receive $1200 a month social security and $1998 a month spousal support. If I get a job how much can I earn until I will be penalized.

  5. John s.

    If i retired at 62 which i did was acbig there any way i could go back to work till i was 67 an draw full benefits

    • Ann C.

      Hi, John. Great question! If you change your mind, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and apply again at a future date. However, you must do this within 12 months after the date you originally began receiving benefits. Keep in mind that there are some things you need to know about what will happen if you withdraw your application. Read the details here. Hope this helps!

  6. Robin P.

    If I turn 66 on 5/12/2019 can I start collecting “full” SS benefits on May 1st or do I have to wait till June 1st

  7. Peggy A.

    How much am I going to be penalized for earning 24,530 in 2018?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Peggy. You can still work and receive your Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, we will reduce your benefit. If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2019 that limit is $17, 640. This limit changes in the year you reach full retirement age. To learn more, visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page or read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. If you have specific questions, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and speak with one of our representatives. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps.


    if my birthday is January 6 why don’t I start getting my check till march, what happened to February thank you

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Antoinette. It sounds like you are age 62 this year. To begin receiving reduced retirement benefits at 62, you are required to be age 62 for the entire month. For SSA purposes, only individuals born on the first or second day of the month are considered age 62 for the “full” month and could be entitled to benefits for the month of their 62nd birthday. Retirement benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if you want your benefits to begin with the month of February, you will receive your first benefit payment in March. Check out our Benefits Planner: Retirement web page for more information. We hope this helps.

  9. Lyle H.

    I am trying to understand the tax obligation of your social security benefits. I know that they calculate 1/2 of your social security with all of you other incomes and if your adjusted gross income is between 25,000 to 34,000 you will be taxed on 50% of your benefits. My question here is, if my adjusted income is less than 25,000 then I am not taxed on my social security and if my adjusted income is say 25,001, am I going to be taxed on the 1 dollar over the 25,000 limit or am I taxed on 25,001?

  10. Anne P.

    I am divorced and my ex husband just got social security disability benefit. I believe my two children under my care and custody are entitled to a social security disability through him. I also believe i am not entitled to a benefit as a divorced woman under 62 years of age. But I wonder if in addition to my children being eligible under him, if they are entitled (or me) to a percent of any lump sum settlements for back pay or retroactive pay? Please confirm all the above including questions. Thank you.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Anne. Thanks for your question. In certain cases, children may qualify for family benefits. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more information. At this time there is not a way to apply online for family benefits. You will have to contact your local Social Security office, for further assistance. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to apply. Representatives at our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), are available between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps!

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