So­cial Se­cu­rity Ben­e­fits And Age Changes


Dear Rusty:

I started draw­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity at age 62. At that time I checked what half of my ex-hus­band’s So­cial Se­cu­rity amount is and it was not much dif­fer­ent than what I am get­ting so I de­cided to just draw off of mine. We were mar­ried 15 years. Since then my cousin men­tioned I might be el­i­gi­ble for more money from my So­cial Se­cu­rity at age 65; is there any truth to that? Signed: Turn­ing 65 Soon.

Dear Turn­ing:

Well, since you’re al­ready col­lect­ing your So­cial Se­cu­rity re­tire­ment ben­e­fit, there’s noth­ing es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant about age 65 that will change your re­tire­ment ben­e­fit amount; but there will be a re­duc­tion in the net amount you re­ceive be­cause your Medi­care pre­mium will be de­ducted from your So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­ment (un­less you make other ar­range­ments, in which case you’ll need to pay the Medi­care pre­mium sep­a­rately). Age 65 was once the So­cial Se­cu­rity full re­tire­ment age but to­day it is be­tween 66 and 67 de­pend­ing upon the year you were born. In any case, since you’re al­ready col­lect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity, there will be no change to your ben­e­fit just be­cause you turn 65.

Gen­er­ally, once you claim your So­cial Se­cu­rity re­tire­ment ben­e­fit, it doesn’t change ex­cept for cost of liv­ing ad­just­ments or an in­crease due to cur­rent high earn­ings re­plac­ing any past year’s earn­ings used to com­pute your orig­i­nal ben­e­fit amount. There is, how­ever, an­other way your ben­e­fit could change – you might be­come en­ti­tled to a higher spousal ben­e­fit or a sur­vivor’s ben­e­fit.

Since you say that you are draw­ing only your own re­tire­ment ben­e­fit and not a spousal ben­e­fit from your ex-hus­band, you should know that if you haven’t re­mar­ried, you may still be en­ti­tled to a larger ben­e­fit as an ex-spouse. Spousal ben­e­fits are based upon full re­tire­ment age amounts, so even if years ago you com­pared half of your ex­hus­band’s early re­tire­ment ben­e­fit to yours and found “it wasn’t much dif­fer­ent,” you may want to ver­ify now that your ben­e­fit as an ex-spouse isn’t more than you are cur­rently re­ceiv­ing. And just to be clear, you can ap­ply for your spousal ben­e­fit at any time be­fore you reach your full re­tire­ment age, but it will be re­duced for claim­ing it early.

Fi­nally, please be aware that if your ex-hus­band pre­de­ceases you and you didn’t re­marry be­fore you were 60, you would be en­ti­tled to 100 per­cent of the ben­e­fit he was re­ceiv­ing at his death (in­stead of what you’re now re­ceiv­ing) if you have reached your full re­tire­ment age. None of this is re­lated to you turn­ing 65 but might nev­er­the­less re­sult in an im­me­di­ate or fu­ture in­crease of your So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fit.

The in­for­ma­tion pre­sented in this ar­ti­cle is in­tended for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion pur­poses only. The opinions and in­ter­pre­ta­tions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the view­points of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­ture Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens Foun­da­tion’s So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory staff. To sub­mit a ques­tion, contact the Foun­da­tion at [email protected] amac­foun­da­

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