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Couples in which each spouse worked and qualifies for Social Security benefits on their own record. One or both of the spouses must be full retirement age or older. To make the most of this strategy, the older spouse should be the higher earner. 


"This strategy maximizes lifetime benefits, not necessarily your monthly benefits." 2 yellow and black gas dispenser


If you are currently married, once you reach full retirement age, you can elect to apply only for a spouse benefit and delay taking your own benefit until age 70 at the latest. Thus, you can claim a spousal benefit now (at the full retirement age), and then claim a larger retirement benefit later. In order to claim the spouse benefit, your spouse must have filed for his/her own retirement benefit. Make sure it is clear when you complete the form that you are restricting the application to the spouse benefit and are not collecting your own retirement benefit. This strategy maximizes lifetime benefits, not necessarily your monthly benefits.


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Bob will reach his full retirement age of 66 in March. His wife Kathy will be 62 in January. Both spouses have worked and are eligible for Social Security. Kathy plans to take her benefit at 62, reducing it from the $1,000 per month it would be at full retirement age to $750 because she is claiming early. By waiting to claim Social Security until his full retirement age, Bob has options. He can claim on his own record or claim as Kathy’s spouse and receive 50 percent of her full-retirement benefit (remember, Bob’s spouse benefit and his own benefit depend on the age he claims benefits, not the age Kathy claims). Because Bob waits to take his own benefit after the full retirement age, he will receive delayed retirement credits and his benefit—which would have been $2,000 per month at full retirement age—will grow to $2,640 per month at age 70.

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Tags: Financial Planning, Lump Sum, Pension, Retirement Planning