SOCIAL SECURITY INCOME FOR SPOUSES
- By Stephen R. Hinds
Surprisingly, many early retirees who have not yet reached age 62 or 65 are totally unaware of the regulations regarding Social Security Income for their spouses. In fact, this recently happened to three very astute friends of mine who didn’t believe that their non-working spouses could receive benefits based upon just the husband’s Social Security history. Since this is a vitally important subject for everyone, I strongly urge you to stop by your local Social Security office and pick up a booklet entitled “Social Security Retirement Benefits”, Publication No. 05-10035. Go to page 9 and read the section entitled “Spouse’s Benefits.” Alternatively, go to “www.ssa.gov” on the web and look up that booklet online.
In abbreviated language, the booklet says that a spouse will receive 50% of the retired worker’s full (age 65) benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before reaching full retirement age. In that case, the amount of the spouse’s benefit is permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before she reaches age 65. If the spouse begins receiving benefits at age 62, the benefit amount would be 37.5%.
If the spouse is eligible for both her own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, the SSA always pays the spouse’s own benefit first. If the benefit as spouse is higher, she will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spousal amount. Make a note on your calendar to have your wife file for this benefit at the appropriate time!
By the way, I also suggest that early retirees do some advance reading on Medicare. Stop by your SSA office and pick up the booklet entitled “Medicare & You - 2002”, Publication No. CMS-10050. It isn’t a thriller novel, but it will govern much of your medical life at age 65 and beyond. Read it and learn what awaits you.