Can You Collect Social Security for You and Your Spouse at the Same Time?

Can You Collect Social Security for You and Your Spouse at the Same Time?

Yes, but you need to be strategic about how you do it.

 

Most Americans will eventually be eligible for Social Security, and therefore many strategize how best to strategize how to maximize their benefits.

If both members of a married couple are eligible for Social Security, they are advised to take into account what age they will begin collecting Social Security, and how to maximize that.

 

“Spousal benefits are generally available to those who are married to someone receiving Social Security checks. They’re particularly helpful for those who either aren’t eligible for their own benefits or are receiving very little from Social Security,” The Motley Fool wrote earlier this year.

“You can begin collecting benefits at sixty-two years old or any age thereafter, but the age you file will directly affect the size of your monthly payments,” that The Motley Fool expert said. “The only way to receive the entire benefit amount you’re entitled to is to claim at your FRA—which is either age sixty-six, sixty-seven, or somewhere in between depending on the year you were born.”

The NJ.com NJMoneyHelp column just recently looked at the question of whether one can get Social Security for themselves and their spouse at the same time.

“My wife is four years older than me and she started collecting her full retirement benefit from Social Security at 66. I am still working. I plan on waiting until 70 to start my benefits. How do I, or can I, collect both benefits?” the correspondent asked.

“You may be eligible for spousal benefits based on your wife’s record, but you can’t double dip. You also can’t switch from one benefit to the other,” the columnist answered.

“The top spousal benefit is 50 percent of your wife’s primary insurance amount and you can get that maximum if you claim benefits at your own full retirement age,” she said. The amount is reduced if you file earlier,” Laura Mattia, a certified financial planner with Atlas Fiduciary Financial in Oakland, said in the NJ.com column.

Earlier this week, the Social Security Administration released a long-awaited report laying out exactly when the main mechanism that funds Social Security will run out of money. Due to the pandemic, that date is one year closer than previously thought, the report said.

The OASI Trust Fund is now projected to become depleted in 2033, when it was originally thought to run out in 2034.

“The Trustees’ projections in this year’s report include the best estimates of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Social Security program,” Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, said in the release. “The pandemic and its economic impact have had an effect on Social Security’s Trust Funds, and the future course of the pandemic is still uncertain. Yet, Social Security will continue to play a critical role in the lives of 65 million beneficiaries and 176 million workers and their families during 2021.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.