If my partner and I, both in our late sixties, get married, will that impact our Social Security benefits?

Published: August 10, 2020

Full question: Hi. My partner and I have been together for over 7 years, but we are not married. I am 64 and plan on collecting Social Security next year at 65. My partner is 69 and already collecting Social Security. If we decide to get married, will this impact our benefits (negatively or positively)?

Hello,

Yes, marriage will impact your benefits.

Once you are married for at least one year, you will each be entitled to collect Social Security spousal benefits. A spousal benefit can be as much as half of the spouse’s PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) depending on the spouses age and when he/she began collecting.

If you and your partner are both collecting your own retirement benefit, you will only collect a spousal benefit if the spousal benefit is higher than your own benefit. If your retirement benefit is higher than the spousal benefit, you will continue to collect your retirement benefit as is.

Also, if you have been married for at least nine months, as a widow or widower you will be eligible to collect a Social Security survivor’s benefit. The rules for collecting survivor benefits are more complicated than for other benefits.

The amount you are entitled to collect depends on if or when the deceased spouse started collecting benefits, how much those benefits were and at what age you begin collecting survivor benefits. There is also the possibility to collect survivor benefits and later switch over to your own retirement benefit, or vice versa, if that becomes the higher amount.

It is a challenge to give specific answers without a complete understanding of you and your partner’s work history and current benefits. A Registered Social Security Analyst can help you determine how marriage will impact your benefits.

Click here for more information on spousal benefits and click here for more information on survivor benefits.

Best,
Martha

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