Here’s an example of how it works: Let’s say that you are age 66 but want to keep working until 70 to collect a higher benefit. Let’s also say your wife is a non-working spouse who just turned 62 and would like to start receiving spousal benefits on your work record. The problem is she can’t get them until you sign up.
So you file for your Social Security benefits but request an immediate suspension, which allows your wife to claim spousal benefits, without locking you into a lower payment for life. Then when you do decide to start collecting, at age 70, you end the suspension and receive a higher benefit for delaying.
The strategy also can be used if you have children under 18, or 19 if they are still attending high school, or are disabled. Each dependent child is eligible for up to 50 percent of the retiree’s full benefit. And, if any child is younger than 16, your spouse can also qualify for additional benefits as a caregiver, even if she’s under age 62.
Claim twice: For two-career couples, the second strategy known as “claim twice” lets you collect Social Security (at full retirement age) first as a spouse and later using your own work record.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say that you are 66 and would like to continue working until age 70, but your wife started collecting her benefits on her own work record at age 64. You could file a “restricted” application with Social Security and collect a spousal benefit which is half of what your wife gets.
Then, once you reach 70, you stop receiving the spousal benefit and switch to your own benefit, which will be 32 percent higher than the benefit you would have collected at your full retirement age.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show.