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Strategies for Claiming Spousal Social Security Benefits

Senior CoupleAccording to The Motley Fool, many Americans claim their Social Security benefits as soon as they can, at age 62. In “Social Security for Spouses: When 66 is Worth Waiting For,” The Motley Fool suggests that instead of rushing to claim benefits as soon as possible, spouses consider how waiting may allow them to maximize their benefits.

There are many scenarios in which waiting until full retirement age  (at least 66) will allow you to claim more than if you start your benefits before the age of 66 because anyone—single or married—who claims benefits before full retirement age will get less than they would if they had waited.

The article outlines a scenario in which someone waits until full retirement age to put in a restricted application for the spousal benefit (which would be half of what that person’s spouse would receive) and then earns delayed retirement credits by letting his or her retirement benefits grow. The kind of earnings you and your spouse had during your working life will determine if waiting to get more of a benefit makes sense for you and you should be aware that both spouses can’t claim the spousal benefit at the same time.

The Motley Fool observes that spousal benefits can be complicated but observes that overall: “Being married opens up a wealth of Social Security strategies that can help you take advantage of claiming options that single retirees don’t have.”

However, you need to be in a position to know about these benefits and choose the option that will work best for you. This is where a Fee-Only financial advisor comes in: working with a financial planner before you reach retirement age can help you manage your resources so you do not feel an urgency to claim your Social Security benefits and can wait if you and your planner decide that this will be to your advantage.