How Should I Coordinate My Benefits Decision With My Spouse?
By Paul Hynes, CFP®
(This is Part 3 of a series on when and how to claim your Social Security benefits.)
You’re approaching retirement. At last, you can tap into your Social Security benefits. After all, you’ve been paying into the system your entire working career. However, if you’re married, divorced, or widowed, you may be able to coordinate benefits to increase your monthly income. Keep in mind that there’s no “one size fits all” strategy. Each couple and situation is different.
In our previous articles, Parts 1 and 2, we discussed the various decisions a person can make as to when to claim benefits. The options are: at full retirement age (about age 66), early retirement (as early as 62), or delayed, (up to age 70). This article will explore how to coordinate the claiming decision between spouses.
Most people have a record of some earnings over their lifetime. Social Security benefits are calculated based on the highest 35 years of earnings. If you don’t work during any year, that counts as a zero in the calculation. When both spouses retire, each person is entitled to their own benefit, or 50% of their spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher.