Navigating Social Security benefits can be complex, but for married couples, understanding the nuances can significantly impact their financial security in retirement. With the right strategies, couples can optimize their benefits and ensure a stable income stream during their golden years.
Understanding Spousal Benefits
Social Security offers Social Security Tips for Married Couples, allowing one partner to claim based on the earnings of the other. To qualify, the earning spouse must already receive benefits, and the claiming spouse must be at least 62 or have a qualifying child under 16. The spousal benefit can amount to half the earning spouse’s benefit at full retirement age, but early claiming can reduce this amount.
To maximize benefits, couples should coordinate when to claim Social Security. Delaying benefits can increase monthly payments, but there needs to be a financial incentive for the lower-earning spouse to wait beyond their full retirement age for spousal benefits.
Strategies include both spouses claiming at full retirement age, both claiming early or a split strategy where the lower-earning spouse claims early while the other delays.
No Separate Filing for Spousal Benefits
Spouses used to file for spousal benefits separately and delay retirement payments to boost them. This option was discontinued by the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act Social Security regulation revisions.
Now, filing for any Social Security benefits triggers claims for all eligible benefits, eliminating the ability to file for spousal benefits separately.