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I'm confused on when to claim spousal benefits

Periodic Contributor

I'm confused on when to claim spousal benefits

I just turned 67 and claimed my SS benefit when I reached my FRA, last year.  My wife, who turns 66 this next week, was mostly a stay at home mom but did teach for a few years.  Upon her turning 62, she started receiving her SS benefits, with of course the early penalty.  Since at that time, I hadn't claimed my own SS, she couldn't file for spousal benefits.  And even with penalty, spousal benefits will be larger than what she currently receives.


My question is, should she have filed for spousal benefits last September when I filed for SS?  Is there any incentive for her to wait till her FRA later this year?  Since she already has the penalty for filing at 62, I'm thinking she should file for spousal now... and should have done so months ago?


When she files for spousal, can it be done online?


EDIT:  My SS before deductions is $3563.90 and hers is $827.90

Honored Social Butterfly

Your wife CAN now  apply  (switch) for spousal benefits since you have now filed for your benefits.  

However, since she took early retirement already at age 62, the same reduction % for early filing will also apply to the spousal benefit but that may still be a bigger amount than what she is now getting.


If she had waited until her FRA to file for her benefits, she would have gotten 50% of your benefit; if that was bigger than her benefit from her own work record.  Now it will be 50% less the % for early filing.


Yes, she could behave filed for spousal benefits (less the early filing %) at the same time when you filed.  

NO, there is no benefit for her to wait until her FRA - in essence, she has already filed for her benefits (early) the only thing she is doing now is switching them to spousal.


She CANNOT switch benefits online per SSA.  I think this is still the case for switching but you can call and verify.

SSA,gov SS Expands Its Online Application for Spousal Benefits 

From the link but it is old - have her call - they might be able to do it simply,

  • Individuals who are currently receiving Social Security benefits or have already applied for retirement or disability benefits with Social Security will not be able to use the online service.




It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Periodic Contributor

Thanks.  I'll have her call tomorrow and have her ask if she can receive 6 months retroactive, since her amount would not increase any from the date I filed.  That sound possible to you?

Periodic Contributor

I have read some prior discussions regarding this issue.  If I understand the answers, which is all rather confusing to me, it seems maybe it would be best for my wife to wait till her FRA to switch to spousal benefits.  If I understand the replies correctly, the following formula would be used to calculate her spousal benefit payment:


1/2 of my benefit - penalty on her benefit she receives from claiming at 62


I figure her penalty for filing at 62 is 27.5% of HER benefit amount.  If my math is correct, I show her penalty amount now is approx $314, since her current monthly payment is approx $824.


So if I understand correctly, it makes since for her to wait till her FRA, so to start the calculation formula with 1/2 of my benefit... and not a lower amount.


So 1/2 of my benefit amount, if she waits to her FRA would be approx $1782

$1782 - $314 penalty = $1468


This make any sense?   So danged many sites, including AARP, state filing early on your own record and then later switching to spousal, is a sound practice.  Trouble is, none of the sites properly discuss the formula to use and don't state if the penalty applies to the spousal amount or just the earlier amount.



Honored Social Butterfly

As I described above - she has already filed for her benefit - her benefits are (1) her own work record (2) her spousal benefits.

She has already taken early retirement and thus has the reduction % to reduce her FRA benefit to early filing.

If she had not already filed for her benefit (early) then at her FRA she would have received 50% of your benefit - that’s the most a spousal benefit would ever be. 


She can now switch her benefit from (1) to (2) with the same early filing reduction applied to (2) just like it was for (1).

She is still gonna come out better with the spousal. Benefit.  It does nothing to her benefit to wait until her FRA - she has already filed for her benefit - early.



It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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