Social Security: Will My Spouse Get More Money If I Wait To Claim Benefits?

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You can claim Social Security benefits anytime after reaching full retirement age, but more delayed retirements credits are applied to your eventual monthly payouts each year you hold off up until age 70. While this allows you to boost your own retirement income, AARP reported that delayed retirement credits are not applied to spousal benefits.

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According to the Social Security Administration, you may qualify for spousal benefits if:

  • Your spouse is already collecting retirement benefits.
  • You have been married for at least a year.
  • You are at least 62 years old (unless you are caring for a child who is under 16 or disabled).

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The most your spouse can receive on your work record is 50% of your primary insurance amount, says AARP. This is the monthly benefit you are entitled to at full retirement age, which is 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955, 66 and 4 months for those born in 1956 and 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

Delayed retirement also doesn’t have any effect on the family maximum benefit. This is the limit on how much you, your spouse and your children can collect in total on your earnings record. The family maximum is between 150% and 188% of your monthly benefit amount at full retirement age.

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AARP also noted that these rules do not apply to survivors. Survivor benefits are paid to widows, widowers and dependents of eligible workers. The deceased person must have also worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

A widow or widower whose spouse waited until the age of 70 to claim Social Security benefits is entitled to the full amount, including delayed retirement credits, as long as the surviving spouse has reached full retirement age. 

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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