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Social Security spousal benefits: Three rules that could reduce your payment

If you are married or were married for at least ten years there are some things you may want to know to better plan for retirement.

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Social Security has three rules about spousal benefits that may reduce your payment.


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Spousal benefits

Depending on your situation, it may be more lucrative to claim your spousal benefit rather than claiming your own. This may work in your favor if your spouse made more money than you. However, there are three rules to consider that could reduce your Social Security benefit.

1. Early filing

If you file early, your benefit will be reduced. There are incentives to delay filing for retirement benefits, which includes spousal payments too.

Your benefit increases each month you delay claiming your Social Security benefits between your full retirement age and age 70.

Spousal benefits could be worth up to 50% of your partner’s standard benefit.

2. Wait for your spouse

If you are ready to start collecting Social Security spousal benefits, you can’t do so until your spouse is receiving their own first. The payments made to the spouse will not decrease the primary earner’s retirement benefit.

If the primary earner isn’t receiving Social Security payments yet, you can claim your own benefit if you qualify and are at least 62.

3. Delayed retirement credit

Social Security benefits are increased each month that you delay claiming after reaching your full retirement age. However, the benefit increase stops when you turn 70.

Delayed retirement benefits are not available for spousal benefits.


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