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Federal Retirees

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#1 Posted : Thursday, December 3, 2020 4:45:52 PM(UTC)

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My wife turned 62, and has earned an SSA benefit of around $900 a month. Meanwhile I am only 57 with 25 years fers, and don't plan on filing for ssa benefits anytime soon. My projected benefit at 62 is $2000k, and around $3000k at 67. Yet, I seem to read that my wife can file for a spousal benefit equal to between 35 and 50% of my ssa benefit based on the amount I would receive at "full retirement".... 1) how do they know what my benefit would be at my full retirement, if I am not even close to filing? 2) what if I retire at 62, what would happen to my wife's spousal benefit if she filed at 62 when I was 57, based on my full retirement at 67?!?

Edited by user Thursday, December 3, 2020 4:47:14 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

#2 Posted : Friday, December 4, 2020 10:23:35 AM(UTC)

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Your wife can not receive spousal benefits on your account until you yourself have filed for your own retirement benefits, so this isn't really an issue for at least another 5 years. This SSA publication contains a general explanation of how retirement benefits are figured. https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf

When your spouse is eligible to receive those benefits, SSA will determine one half of your unreduced benefit (the amount you would receive if you first drew retirement benefits at your full retirement age of 67 and based on your earnings up to the time you actually file if you file prior to full retirement age), also referred to as your primary insurance amount (PIA) and then subtract your spouse's own PIA (the amount she would have received if she waited until her full retirement age to claim her retirement benefit) from that figure. If she is over her full retirement age at that time, as it appears she would be, this would be the amount of spousal benefit she would receive.
#3 Posted : Friday, December 4, 2020 11:46:54 AM(UTC)

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There used to be an option called "File and Suspend" where a person could file for social security benefits but delay receiving the actual benefits, but by filing their spouse could collect a spousal benefit. That was eliminated a couple years ago.

There's another factor that I think GoHuskers may have left out: if you wife starts collecting at age 62, her own benefit will be reduced by an amount relative to the number of years/months she starts collecting prior to her full retirement age (FRA). That same reduction will also apply to her spousal benefit. That is, she will get 50% of your benefit less that same reduction (as a percentage).

I'm sure that could have been expressed more accurately but the point is that you really need to understand all this before working out your social security strategy.
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#4 Posted : Friday, December 4, 2020 1:20:32 PM(UTC)

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The second paragraph of someoldguy's reply isn't strictly accurate. When one first becomes eligible to a spousal benefit after they first start receiving their own retirement benefit, the actuarial reduction applied to the excess is based on the month of entitlement to the spousal benefit, not on the month of entitlement to their own retirement benefit.


For example, if the spouse was 62 this year, she was born in 1958, making her full retirement age 66 years 8 months. If she has filed for and is receiving a retirement benefit of $900 and took her retirement right at age 62 + 1 month, the $900 she is receiving would be about 67.1% of her PIA, meaning her PIA would be around $1340 (just estimating). So if the husband's benefit at his full retirement age is $3000 and he files for benefits effective that date, the unreduced spousal benefit would be $1500. If her own PIA was still $1340 at that time (not likely with the subsequent COLAs but we'll assume it for the example), it would be subtracted from the $1500 leaving an unreduced excess spousal benefit of $160.000. If she was at or over her own full retirement age at that time, there would be no reduction and that would be the additional spousal benefit she would receive. If she was still under her full retirement age as of that date, the benefit would be reduced by 25/36th of 1% for each month she was under full retirement age as of the date of the entitlement to the spouse's benefit.
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