Social Security Tip for Couples Born Before 1/2/1954
Posted by John Posey
If you or your spouse was born before 1/2/1954, you both are eligible for benefits and only one spouse is claiming or delaying Social Security, listen up. If you’re already both claiming Social Security, this is not an applicable strategy for you, but it could be valuable to others you know.
I was reminded of a Social Security strategy recently that is only available to married couples when at least one spouse is born before 1/2/1954, so if that describes you or maybe someone you know you’d be wise explore this and pass on the info. Unfortunately, this spousal benefit was eliminated in 2015 for couples born on or after 1/2/1954. This strategy involves filing what’s called a restricted application with Social Security to claim a spousal benefit which I describe in more detail below.
If one spouse is delaying Social Security (often in attempts to maximize the benefits), this is a fantastic opportunity for the delaying spouse to collect up to 50% of their spouse’s Social Security benefits (as a spousal benefit) while they wait to elect their own Social Security benefits. The delaying spouse must meet the following criteria to be eligible for spousal benefits (you can find details and additional circumstantial info here):
- Born on or before January 1, 1954
- They have reached full retirement age (FRA)
- They have not yet claimed their own benefits
The beauty in this approach is the spouse delaying benefits can receive a spousal benefit until they switch to their own Social Security benefit amount by age 70 if it is a higher benefit. This is a free money opportunity to any couple who can meet the criteria.
Here’s a hypothetical example to illustrate the potential benefit. Let’s say married couple, Bob & Jane, each have earnings history and are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Bob was born in 1950 and started collecting Social Security when he reached full retirement age at 66 which happens to be $2,000 a month. Jane was born in 1953 and she decided to delay her Social Security in efforts to maximize the benefit until she reaches age 70. Since she is beyond her full retirement age, she could be eligible for 50% of her spouse’s benefit which would be $1,000/month. She effectively could collect $1,000/month as a spousal benefit for the next 3 years until she reaches age 70 and elects to take her own higher Social Security benefit. That’s potentially another $36,000 in their pockets by using this strategy!
If you’re in this situation, visit ssa.gov, contact your local Social Security office, and take the next steps to take full advantage of your Social Security benefits.
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