If a spouse collects their own retirement benefit at 62, can they switch to a spousal benefit later?

Published: January 18, 2022

Full question: Hello Martha and Happy Safe New Year. My wife turned 62 in Jan 2022 and is entitled to receive $644 if we elect to start then. Under Spousal benefits, she would receive $1,008 if I were receiving my benefits. I am turning 65 this July 2022 and haven’t filed to collect yet, waiting to at least my full retirement age of 66 and 6 months if possible. My question is, if we file to start my wife’s benefits in Feb 2022 for the $644, will we be able to have her benefit increased for the additional spousal benefit when I file for my benefit, or does she lose that? I understand she can’t get the spousal benefit until I collect. Thanking you in advance.

Hi there,

Your understanding is correct. Anyone who is eligible to collect multiple benefits – their own retirement and a spousal or survivor – will only receive the higher of the two amounts when they apply.

Your wife can begin collecting her retirement benefits starting at age 62. Then, once you start collecting your retirement benefits, she will be eligible for a “bump up” amount if the spousal benefit is higher than her own retirement benefit. If she begins collecting her retirement benefits early, prior to her FRA, the spousal increase will not be up to the full 50% of your PIA.

An RSSA can help you by analyzing the most optimal times for both of you to collect benefits and also make sure you are considering the importance of the survivor benefit as a couple.

Take care,

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