Coordinating spousal benefits in filing for social security can make a big difference in your retirement income. Contrary to popular practice, it’s not automatic that each spouse should just file for social security benefits as soon as he or she retires. As a couple, you have the potential to increase your income over your whole retirement and maximize security for the surviving spouse through effective planning.
Social security offers some surprising options to help couples (including divorced couples married for at least 10 years) take full advantage of all benefits available to them.
Did you know that spousal benefits are not restricted to the low-earning spouse and can be claimed by the husband or wife?
A high-earning spouse who wants to wait until age 70 to file on his or her own record to receive maximum delayed retirement credits, can file for spousal benefits on the lower earning spouse’s record at full retirement age. This allows the high earning spouse to receive at least some social security without reducing his or her own maximum delayed retirement benefit.
Did you know that the primary worker has the option to file and suspend his or her own benefit and still allow the spouse to start receiving benefits?
This option allows the primary worker to continue earning delayed retirement credits while the lower earning spouse starts to receive a spousal benefit on the worker’s record.
Did you know that by the higher earning spouse delaying benefits to age 70, both husband and wife enjoy longevity protection?
When the first spouse passes away, the surviving spouse gets to keep the higher of their two benefits – including delayed retirement credits. These benefits are indexed for inflation, so even if the surviving spouse lives another 20 years after the first spouse’s death, he or she will benefit from the delayed retirement credits growing with inflation over that entire time.
These considerations are just the tip of the iceberg in planning for social security! For couples nearing age 62, the pay-off on the effort to fully analyze this decision is enormous.