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

April 6, 2017 • By

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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, Personal Finance Expert

Suze Orman is an award-winning personal finance expert.


  1. elissa h.

    I am on early retirement want to know if and what of my husbands retirement I will be elegeable for when I am of full retirement age? Thank you, Elissa Holt

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Elissa. Thanks for your question. We will always pay your own retirement benefit first. Once your husband applies, we will look into additional benefits on his record at that time. If benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. However, the spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of your husband’s full retirement amount (not his reduced benefit amount). So, you can only receive additional spouse’s benefits if your own full retirement benefit (not your reduced benefit) is less than half of your husband’s full retirement benefit.

      Check out our Benefits For You As A Spouse web page for additional details.

  2. Yousif a.

    I divorced my first wife after 40 years married to her and now I have a wife for 10 years is my first wife in titles to my SS benefit or my new wife will get it all

  3. Bettye K.

    I want to know why is it that you can work all you want at the age of 76, but if you are renting and apartment, why can’t they accept your Social Security and your Retirment without having to tell them you are trying to make extra money for yourself,where I am at now they are saying I make too much money to live in the low income apartment, that’s not right because you got to have some (me money) for your self. I want to know the Law on that, so can you e-mail me back the information on that? I need help and don’t want to move again because of that, can you help me out?Thank you in Advance.

  4. Charlotte s.

    Can a ex wife of over 10 years of marriage claim on ex spouses social security benifits when I’m on a disability income from the railroad retirement benifits . Can I claim both railroad benifits and also on my ex husbands social security benifits . I’m 67 years old come march 2020 Charlotte

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Charlotte. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can answer in this forum. 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.

  5. Mike

    I am currently working and started taking my social security benefits when I reached age 66. My wife will reach age 66 next month and we plan to file for her spousal benefits. My understanding is she will receive benefits at the rate of 1/2 of mine. Since I am still working and plan to continue working for a few more years, my question is this: when my benefit is increased because I am still paying into the fund, will her benefit also increase at that time for the same reason?

  6. Anthony G.

    I am 80 years old and getting social security benefits now and i am going to retire next week do i have to notified social security?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Anthony. Congratulations on your recent retirement! Since you are full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits so you do not have report this change. Thanks!

  7. Lanette M.

    As a surviving spouse, can I receive Social Security if I move to another country? If this is possible, what are the requirements?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Lanette. Thanks for your question. If you are a U. S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security benefits outside the United States as long as you are eligible, no matter how long you stay outside the United States. If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your benefits will usually stop if you leave the United States for a full calendar month, 30 consecutive days or more. There are certain countries, however, to which we cannot send payments. For more information about your payments while you are outside of the United States, please visit here. We hope this helps.

  8. Basil E.

    What is your cancellation policy? I called on December 5, 2019 to cancel my Part B. I am still working and have coverage with my employer’s insurance. But the person who I chatted with and who helped me on the phone told me that I would have to pay for December 2019 and January 2020. That is a total of $500.00 for those 2 months. In which I get nothing. No benefits what so ever? This in insane. $500.00 for nothing.

    Can you send me something to show that this is your policy please.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Basil. If you wish to terminate your enrollment, a signed request for termination and a personal interview is required. You will have to go to your local Social Security office, and we will help you submit a signed request for termination or Form CMS-1763. We hope this helps.

  9. Paul R.

    I’m still working and I will reach full retirement age next month if I want to continue to work and start receiving social security benefits will my employer be notified about this?

    • Luis A.

      Hi Paul. Please note that how much you can earn and still receive retirement benefits is established by law. It applies to persons who work for someone else, as well as persons who are self-employed. This earnings limit ends when you reach your full retirement age. You can find more information on our Frequently Asked Questions web page, and in publication titled “How Work Affects Your Benefits.” We will not notify your employer that you are receiving benefits. We hope this helps.

  10. Oswaldscott

    I have a over payment

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