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Newly Passed Law Regarding Social Security Benefits ??
Old 05-16-2014, 01:43 PM   #1
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Newly Passed Law Regarding Social Security Benefits ??

I heard there was a law past in Congress a few years back, that few people know about, that allows your wife, (If you're married over 10 years), to be eligible for half of her husbands benefits, if that monthly payment is larger than the one she is scheduled to receive on her own. Can anyone verify this?

A recently retired co worker called me and told me about it. He was very pleasantly surprised when he was told about it at the S.S. office when he went in to apply for his retirement benefits. What I'm not sure of, is if your wife has to be 65 or older to qualify? I'll be retiring at the end of this year, or early next year, (January). I'll be 62 on November 6, 2014. My wife will be 59 in August. So she still has a few years to go before she can claim any S.S. benefits.

Half of my monthly benefit would exceed what she is currently estimated to receive at age 62 on her own by about $350.00 per month. I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on this matter? Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-16-2014, 01:47 PM   #2
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Ssa.gov will help you out. Also search the e-r.org forums for spousal benefit.
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Old 05-16-2014, 01:56 PM   #3
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Lots of online resources on spousal benefits, here's just one Don't overlook Social Security spousal benefits, but it's best if you confirm your options using your specific circumstances.
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Old 05-16-2014, 03:14 PM   #4
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Old 05-16-2014, 03:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by billt460 View Post
I heard there was a law past in Congress a few years back, that few people know about, that allows your wife, (If you're married over 10 years), to be eligible for half of her husbands benefits, if that monthly payment is larger than the one she is scheduled to receive on her own. Can anyone verify this?

A recently retired co worker called me and told me about it. He was very pleasantly surprised when he was told about it at the S.S. office when he went in to apply for his retirement benefits. What I'm not sure of, is if your wife has to be 65 or older to qualify? I'll be retiring at the end of this year, or early next year, (January). I'll be 62 on November 6, 2014. My wife will be 59 in August. So she still has a few years to go before she can claim any S.S. benefits.

Half of my monthly benefit would exceed what she is currently estimated to receive at age 62 on her own by about $350.00 per month. I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on this matter? Thanks in advance.
Actually nothing new, it has been that way for at least 45 years. My grandmother who never worked got half of my grandfathers ss. It has been the case always that you got the larger, of the two as a spouse (it also works if the husband is the lower paid worker on a job that has ss taken out)
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:24 PM   #6
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I have a question along the same line, but with a twist. Person receives a pension from the Railroad Retirement board and is over 67. Person's spouse is a Social Security covered high earner not yet old enough to file for benefits.

It is my understanding that Person cannot file for spousal benefit until spouse files for SS (unless spouse dies). True?

If the spouse applies for SS before attaining 67 then Person's spousal benefit would be reduced. True?

Must Person choose between spousal SS and the Railroad Retirement benefit? If not, are there off-sets calculated one vs the other?
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Old 05-17-2014, 07:17 AM   #7
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Actually nothing new, it has been that way for at least 45 years. My grandmother who never worked got half of my grandfathers ss. It has been the case always that you got the larger, of the two as a spouse (it also works if the husband is the lower paid worker on a job that has ss taken out)
+1 nothing new. In fact, probably less relevant today because there are more two-earner couples and less SAHMs. Nonetheless, DW was a SAHM so we will benefit from this feature.

The other thing OP should be aware of is that if the higher earner predeceases their spouse that they spouse inherits the higher earner's SS for the rest of the spouse's life.

OP, AARP has a good online tool for optimizing claiming strategies.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:32 AM   #8
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OMG the link states I can collect the spousal benefit even though I made more! And will collect 1/2 his benefit at age 66 even if contracting PT then my stepped up benefit at age 70
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:22 AM   #9
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Welcome to ER...
re: SS... first post here discusses spousal benefit (simply).
While the eligibility age has changed, the law has been around for many years.
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:03 PM   #10
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The 10 year limit is for your EX wives.
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:19 PM   #11
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X-spouses, not just wives. My brother's x-wife has made much more than he for many years, she is in her mid-50s, he in his mid 60s. He will file on her record when she is old enough to qualify for SS.
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billt460 View Post
I heard there was a law past in Congress a few years back, that few people know about, that allows your wife, (If you're married over 10 years), to be eligible for half of her husbands benefits, if that monthly payment is larger than the one she is scheduled to receive on her own. Can anyone verify this?
That's the way I've understood it for years. Nothing really new and it often comes up on this forum.
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Old 10-11-2014, 06:42 AM   #13
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I do like the assumption that it is the wife who was the weaker earner. My wife currently makes 6x what I did while working and I will be the one qualifying for half of her SS benefits.
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Old 10-11-2014, 01:35 PM   #14
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My brother is in the same situation and his wife is ~12 years younger than he, she is about 6 years away from qualifying for SS. I presume he must wait until that time to file on her record.
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Old 10-11-2014, 02:08 PM   #15
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My brother is in the same situation and his wife is ~12 years younger than he, she is about 6 years away from qualifying for SS. I presume he must wait until that time to file on her record.
From my reading of the SSA site - yes - the spousal benefits can only be claimed when the primary SS person is collecting or has filed and suspended. The lower earning spouse can take a reduced spousal benefit at 62, or at FRA - but if they take at 62, they also reduce their own benefits if they ever want to claim on their own benefit.

This is different than divorced spouses. You can claim on your ex's benefit even if they aren't collecting yet, as long as you are of FRA. (Presuming you were married at least 10 years, didn't remarry, etc.) I guess they assume divorced people don't necessarily talk and discuss who's going to start collecting, when...

From my understanding (which could be completely wrong)... If the higher earner is younger, it's better to be divorced, so the older, lower income person can claim the divorced spouse benefits at FRA... even before the younger, higher earner reaches FRA. But then again - divorce is messy and expensive... so probably not reason enough to get divorced.
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Old 10-11-2014, 02:38 PM   #16
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My brother divorced after a marriage of well over 10 years, mess and expense now a bad memory.

How do they calculate the benefit as the former wife is still working?
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:29 AM   #17
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Rather interesting. DW and I had careers n which we didn't pay into SS, but due to previous jobs and other off duty employment, it appears I may be eligible for about $500 a month (at 62) prior to any offsets due to a pension. Have to check and see if DW, who's a year and a half older, can collect anything when she hits 66. 58 now, but it will be something for me to investigate later, if it's not changed.


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