Q: My husband and I will be 66 in the same month and will each be able to draw Social Security on our own records. My full month amount is equivalent to my drawing one-half of my husband’s monthly benefit. Can I opt to draw one-half of his until I am 70, thereby increasing my own benefit? If I do that, does he have to delay drawing his until age 70?
A: Yes, you can opt to collect “spousal” benefits instead of your own benefits (this option is only available if you are at full retirement age) and then switch to your own benefits at age 70. Your husband does not have to delay benefits for you to collect spousal benefits.
However, if your budget allows, you might consider taking your full benefit now and having your husband collect spousal benefits. This way his larger benefit will continue to grow and will result in his benefit being 32% higher than if he took his full benefit at his full retirement age.
Your benefit now will be smaller, but this strategy maximizes your family’s total benefit by maximizing the larger benefit. In addition, if you outlive your husband the spousal benefit you will receive will be larger than if your husband took his full benefit now.
You can learn more about this strategy, called Restricted Application in the following article: Social Security’s Gift to Married Couples: The Spousal Benefit.
[Note: The budget deal passed in November 2015 eliminated the file and suspend and restricted application strategies. For more information, please read Budget Deal Eliminates File and Suspend Social Security Filing Strategy.]