Should I apply for my own benefits now and then switch to spousal benefits at FRA?

Published: September 28, 2023

Full question: Hi Martha. I’m a 62 yr old woman married 25 years. Divorced little over 10 years ago. Ex husband is 80 retired at full retirement age with max benefits. Neither of us remarried. His earnings much higher than mine. When is it best for me to apply for SS benefits now or when I reach FRA? Is there a reason one should apply for SS benefits on a ex-spouse before or after their passing assuming he passes before myself? Should I apply for my own SS benefits now then switch to my ex-husbands at FRA? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would like to add that I am ok financially to wait if this is the best option to choose. Thank your for all you do and for your time.

Hi there,

No, you are not able to apply and start collecting your own retirement benefits now and then switch to the spousal later.

Yes, you are eligible for ex-spousal benefits now that you are 62 years old, but the amount you receive will be reduced if you collect those prior to your FRA.

The maximum ex-spousal you will receive (at FRA) will be 50% of what he was eligible for at his FRA.

If you are also eligible for you own retirement benefits, you will only receive the higher amount of the two at the time you apply.

Survivor benefits are different than spousal benefits. You would be eligible for those when your ex-husband passes away. Survivor benefits are highest if collected at your FRA or later. They may very likely increase your total benefit whether you are collecting your own retirement benefit or a spousal benefit.

For personalized assistance, schedule a call with an RSSA here.

Take care,

Schedule Appointment
Back to All