I recently turned 66 as has my ex-spouse, been divorced since 2000 and have not remaried. I am going to file for retirement benefits. If one files for ex-spouse benefits, is the amount of that benefit always 50% of the FRA of the ex-spouse or is it the age when one files for ex-spouse benefits? In other words, should I wait until age 70 to apply for ex-spouse benefits and apply for my benefits at this time or should I do vice versa? Ex-spouse's benefits are much more than mine.
OK, yes, if you have not ever filed for retirement benefits yet, and you are of your FULL retirement age, filing for a spousal benefit (which you are grandfathered to do, as a 'restricted' application) can be done. It will be 50%. I think you are saying that 50% of your ex's is STILL far greater than 100% of your own, is that right? (I.e. you were not a big earner in your lifetime). But, you will want to determine if your own primary insurance amount, if UNTAKEN til age 70, when it then is 132% of your PIA, is still smaller than your 50% spousal. If it is, then no big deal, just stay on spousal. But if it is not, you want to make sure your spousal application at your FRA is 'restricted' so it doesn't curb your own benefit amount (thereby allowing it to grow that extra 32%).
You do NOT want to wait til 70 for a spousal, because it never grows past your FRA. It does not go up after your own age passes FRA. Moreover, at 70 your own benefit will be greater than now, so you want to refrain from filing for your own now, if getting the biggest amount at 70, forever, is a goal (and you've determined that that amount is bigger than your spousal).
Stephanie O. Joy, Esq., of JoyDisability, is an attorney licensed in New Jersey, but currently practicing federal Social Security Disability law in all 50 states from her PA office. JoyDisability also provides pre-CDR services exclusive of representation and consultations on non-disability matters, including retirement issues . Answers to questions HERE, however, are for general purposes only.
I agree with Ms. Joy. Your spousal benefit is best now and you can defer your own until age 70, which will be about 50% higher than it is now.
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