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