Enhancing Your Retirement Income through Spousal Social Security Benefits

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About Derrick Loflin

Derrick Loflin specializes in helping individuals and families prepare financially for retirement with the proper Safe Income Planning Strategies, educating clients on options to generate more retirement income and how to not only securely protect their money but also provide strategies to grow their money during uncertain economic environments. Derrick’s career in the Financial and Insurance Industry started a few years before the 2008 economic crash. He has more than 15 years of experience helping people protect and grow their money. Derrick has assisted hundreds of individuals and couples over his career by creating a solid financial foundation, as well as generating a secure retirement income that they cannot outlive.

If you’re married or divorced, spousal Social Security benefits may be a significant source of additional income during your retirement years. Understanding how these benefits work is crucial to making the most of your retirement plan. Let’s unravel this potential source of income.

What Are Spousal Benefits?

When your spouse files for Social Security retirement benefits, you may also be entitled to receive benefits based on their work history. Here’s the gist:

  • Eligibility: You must be at least 62 years old or caring for a child under 16 (or a disabled child) who is receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Benefit Amount: Your spousal benefit could be up to 50% of your spouse’s primary insurance amount (PIA) if you claim at your full retirement age (FRA). Your FRA depends on your birth year.
  • Your Own Benefits: If your own Social Security retirement benefit is higher than the spousal benefit, you’ll receive your own benefit. You don’t get both.

When to Claim

Choosing the optimal time to claim spousal benefits is crucial:

  • Claiming Early: Taking spousal benefits before your FRA means a permanently reduced benefit.
  • Waiting Pays Off: Delaying until your FRA maximizes your spousal benefit.
  • Your Spouse’s Filing: You may only receive a spousal benefit once your spouse has started collecting their benefits.

Benefits for Divorced Spouses

If you were married for at least ten years, you might still be eligible for spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record, even if they have remarried. Keep in mind:

  • Eligibility: You must be at least 62 years old and unmarried.
  • Ex-Spouse’s Benefits: You may collect spousal benefits even if your ex-spouse isn’t receiving benefits yet (as long as you’ve been divorced for at least two years).

Survivor Benefits

If your spouse passes away, you might be able to switch to survivor benefits instead of your own retirement benefits or the spousal benefit. To qualify:

  • Marriage: You must have been married for at least nine months (some exceptions apply).
  • Age: Typically, you must be at least age 60 (or 50 if disabled).
  • Benefit Amount: Survivor benefits may be up to 100% of your deceased spouse’s benefit.

How to Apply

To apply for spousal benefits, follow these steps:

  1. Gather Documentation: Marriage certificates, birth certificates, Social Security numbers, and proof of divorce (if applicable).
  2. Contact Social Security: Schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office or apply online.
  3. Consult the Experts: A financial advisor may help you create a personalized Social Security strategy that maximizes your benefits.

Spousal benefits are a valuable piece of the Social Security puzzle. By understanding the eligibility requirements, benefit amounts, and ideal filing strategies, you and your spouse may maximize your hard-earned Social Security benefits, ensuring a more comfortable and worry-free retirement.

Understand the complexities of Social Security and optimize your benefits. Contact a trusted advisor today to create a strategy for maximizing your retirement income.

Many people have learned about the power of using the Safe Money approach to reduce volatility. Our Safe Money Guide is in its 20th edition and is available for free.  

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About Derrick Loflin

Derrick Loflin specializes in helping individuals and families prepare financially for retirement with the proper Safe Income Planning Strategies, educating clients on options to generate more retirement income and how to not only securely protect their money but also provide strategies to grow their money during uncertain economic environments. Derrick’s career in the Financial and Insurance Industry started a few years before the 2008 economic crash. He has more than 15 years of experience helping people protect and grow their money. Derrick has assisted hundreds of individuals and couples over his career by creating a solid financial foundation, as well as generating a secure retirement income that they cannot outlive.

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