How to manage spousal benefits a common question for
This weeks questions focus on women, the predominate
recipients of Social Security
March 18, 2015 This weeks Social
Security Q&A has two topics that are of particular interest to
women, who make up 57 percent of all Social
Security beneficiaries age 62 and older. Included is another
complicated question abut how to best handle spousal benefits.
I will be turning 66 the same month that my wife
turns 62. She never worked outside of our home. If I sign up to take my
SS then suspend it in order to have her receive spousal benefits, I
understand that she will take a lower spousal benefit because she is
starting at age 62. Will my suspended benefits be paid to me in a lump
sum when I resume them later at age 70? Does her spousal benefit
increase when she reaches age 66?
Her spousal benefit will stay at the same rate from
when she started it. So if she starts at age 62, it will be about 35%
of your full benefit amount.
By suspending your benefit, it does not mean that
the monthly payments will be given to you later in a lump sum. It means
that you agree not to receive a monthly benefit and instead start
gaining the increase based on the delayed retirement credits.
By suspending, you are able to start adding the
delayed retirement credit for each month that you do not receive your
retirement benefit. So if you file and suspend your benefit at age 66,
you start accruing 2/3 of 1% for each month that goes by. This will be
added to your full amount and you can start receiving it anytime between
age 66 and age 70.
Let me clarify one important detail. You do not
have to suspend your retirement benefit at age 66 in order for your wife
to begin receiving her benefit on your record as a wife. You can
actually receive your retirement benefit at 100% at age 66, and she can
start receiving her wifes benefit.
If you want to file and suspend your retirement
benefit, you can at age 66, and Social Security will still pay the
spousal benefit to your wife on your record.
Do more men or women receive Social Security
Women represent 57 percent of all
Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 68
percent of all beneficiaries age 85 and older.
With longer life expectancies than
men, elderly women tend to live more years in retirement and have a
greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. This is just one
reason that Social Security represents a more important part of
retirement income for women.
One way to prepare for retirement
is to understand Social Security benefits as far in advance as possible.
A recent national campaign was just announced to help with this type of
planning. Social Security, along with the American Savings
Education Council, the Consumer Federation of America, the Womens
Institute for a Secure Retirement, and the U.S. Department of Treasury,
launched the Campaign
for a Secure Retirement: Helping Millions of Americans Plan and Save for
The campaign is a joint educational retirement
campaign to encourage retirement planning and saving and to promote the
online Social Security Statement, available through my Social Security,
as an important retirement planning tool.
Each month, the campaign will target different
audiences and focus on different themes, such as women in March. You can
stay up to date on the many activities at the
informational page. Current activities are also reported on
Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with
the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him
at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can
also email him at email@example.com.