Will marriage impact my future spouse’s benefits?
Full question: I was previously married for 28 years, but am now single, age 67 and collecting Social Security. If I marry a 69-year old lady, who is also collecting Social Security, will her benefit amount change?
Her benefit may change if the spousal benefit she would be eligible to collect is greater than the retirement benefit she is currently collecting.
Generally, if the amount of Social Security she is collecting is greater than 50% of your amount, then no, she will not be eligible for a higher amount. You probably know that a spousal benefit is based on the other spouse’s earnings record. Married couples are not eligible for spousal benefits until they have been married for at least one year.
The important information you need to know is:
1) What is the amount of your own primary insurance amount, or PIA? This is the amount of your retirement benefit that you were eligible to collect at your full retirement age of 66, which may not necessarily be the amount you are collecting now.
2) Will your new wife’s Social Security retirement benefit amount, a year after you are married, be less than 50% of your PIA? If the answer is ‘yes’ then she will be eligible to switch over to a spousal benefit based on your earnings after you have been married for one year.
Related to this question is the survivor benefit rule. Once you have been married for 9 months, if one of you dies, the other is entitled to survivor benefits. The surviving spouse will collect the higher of the two benefit amounts.
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