Eighty years ago, on August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed The Social Security Act into law to provide a plan for social insurance to America’s workforce "against the hazards and vicissitudes of life."* In 2014, more than 59 million Americans received almost $863 billion in Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.
In those 80 years, there have been a lot of Social Security questions asked and answered, income strategies have evolved, and Social Security has changed, too.
It is important to stay current and understand how it all works. This is especially true when it comes to claiming strategies for Social Security as they apply to married couples and divorced individuals. To help with this, here are answers to three commonly asked claiming questions concerning spousal benefits.
Answer: Yes. By claiming on or after FRA, you have the option to claim one of the following:
If you choose spousal benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits (which will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70).
Answer: No. Because of Social Security’s “deemed” filing rule, if you apply for benefits prior to your FRA, you do not get are not allowed the choice. You are “deemed” to have applied for both your own retirement benefit and a spousal benefit at the same time. If your spousal benefit is greater than your own retirement benefit, Social Security will make up the difference so that your benefit will equal your spousal benefit. Because you collected prior to FRA, the spousal benefit amount will be reduced.
Answer: Yes. A divorced spouse can receive benefits on his/her ex-spouse’s Social Security work record if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. The divorced spouse claiming the benefits must be age 62 or older and unmarried, and the ex-spouse worker must be eligible for benefits.
This is just a sampling of Social Security questions. As you can imagine, there are many, many more.
For answers to other Social Security questions, please feel free to contact Retirement Strategies Group at (800)722-2333, ext. 3939, or e-mail us at RSG@PacificLife.com.
*Price, Thomas E. "Fifty Years Ago." Social Security History. Social Security Administration, n.d.
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