Q & A
Ask Rusty – Spousal and Survivor Benefits
Dear Rusty: I worked in my career, but I now get Social Security disability. My husband retired in 2015 at age 66 and took his Social Security at that time. When he is 70 can I get spousal benefits from his Social Security or is that not allowed? And if I can’t get them when he turns 70, can I get them if he dies before me? I am 5 years younger than my husband, but my health is up and down, so if I die before him can he get spousal benefits from my Social Security? Signed: Kentucky Woman
Dear Kentucky Woman: Since your husband is already receiving his Social Security retirement benefits, you are eligible to collect spousal benefits at any time after you reach age 62, even though you are collecting Social Security Disability benefits (you don’t have to wait until he’s 70); however, if you start those spousal benefits before you reach your full retirement age (FRA) they will be reduced. How much of a reduction depends upon how soon before your full retirement age that you claim your spousal benefit. If you claim at or after your full retirement age (66+2 months) your spousal benefit would be 50% of your husband’s full retirement age benefit; but if you start earlier than your FRA it would be less. If you file for spousal benefits at age 63, you would get 37.5% of your husband’s FRA benefit, instead of 50%.
Please note too that your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will automatically convert to regular Social Security benefits when you reach your full retirement age but will continue at the same amount you were receiving on disability (including the spousal portion). If your husband predeceases you, and you have already reached your full retirement age, you will get 100% of whatever Social Security benefit he was receiving, instead of any disability benefit or spousal benefit you may be receiving. If he passes and you claim survivor’s benefits before you reach your full retirement age, those benefits will be reduced to something less than 100% of the benefit he was receiving. How much of a reduction depends upon how many months before your FRA that you start the survivor’s benefit. If you were to predecease your husband, he would get survivor’s benefits from you only if that benefit is higher than the amount he is already receiving from his own work record.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Foundation’s website at www.amacfoundation.org