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Spousal Benefit

The Unmarried Penalty With Social Security (and the Divorce Advantage)

Okay, penalty probably is the wrong term for it – maybe the better term would be short-change. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the marriage penalty for income taxes – this is where it can be beneficial tax-wise for two people to remain single than to be married and be forced to file either jointly or separately.  The tax code contains several ways that this is true.  But did you know that there is a way that married folks might level the field versus singles in the Social Security law-scape?  Plus, divorced folks may also have an advantage over singles AND married folks who were never divorced (or who divorced after marriage of less than ten years)? The Marriage Advantage When a worker remains single over his or her working life, there is an inequality in benefits paid out based on his or her record when you compare it to that of […]

Can Both Spouses File a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only?

Note: with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Bill of 2015 into law, File & Suspend and Restricted Application have been effectively eliminated for anyone born in 1954 or later. If born before 1954 there are some options still available, but these are limited as well. Please see the article The Death of File & Suspend and Restricted Application for more details. In the wake of my post last week, Can Both Spouses File and Suspend?, I received multiple iterations of the same question, which is the topic of today’s post: Can Both Spouses File a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only? Unlike the original situation where technically it is possible to undertake but the results would not be optimal, in this situation it’s not technically possible. (The one exception is in the case of a divorced couple. For the details on how it works for divorcees, see this article: […]

Can I Switch to My Spouse’s Benefit At FRA?

This is a question that comes up pretty frequently, in several different flavors.  Basically, here’s the full question: I started benefits at age 62, and now I’m 66 (Full Retirement Age) – can I switch over to my spouse’s benefit now that I’m age 66?  And will it be based on his benefit when he was 66, or his benefit now.  (He’s 70 now, and has been collecting benefits since he turned 66.) There are a couple of questions being asked here, and I’ll cover them one-by-one. Can I switch to my spouse’s benefit? The wording here is troubling, because the asker specifically wishes to “switch” to another benefit.  If an individual is already receiving retirement benefits, the spousal benefit is not a “switch”, but rather an “addition” to the retirement benefit. The second issue is implied, and maybe not troublesome to the question at hand.  The Spousal Benefit at […]

Important Factors When Planning Social Security for Couples

Planning for Social Security benefits for a couple can be complicated.  There are many factors to consider, including the amount of benefits each member of the couple is entitled to at various ages, as well as the relative ages of the spouses to one another.  Other factors include whether or not one member of the couple (or both) will earn wages past age 62, as well as longevity: the potential of the couple (at least one member) living past normal life expectancy. Longevity is one of the most important factors to consider – and for a couple this isn’t as straightforward as it is for one person.  According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Annuity 2000 table, a couple who are both age 50 stand a 50% chance of one member living to at least 91 years of age.  For another example, if the husband is 62 and the […]

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