Social Security Questions: Ask Rusty – Octogenarian asks about wife’s spousal and survivor benefits – The Coastland Times
Social Security Questions: Ask Rusty – The octogenarian asks about his wife’s spousal and survivor benefits
Posted at 4:16 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 2022
By Russell Gloor, AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor, Association of Mature American Citizens
Dear Rusty: I am now 80 and my wife is 76, and we both took early Social Security benefits at age 62. When my wife took her social security, it was much smaller than mine, so they took part of mine and added it to hers. How it works? Also, when I die, will my wife get all of mine or just a percentage? Signed: Curious Senior
Dear Curious: The standard Social Security process is to pay a beneficiary’s personally earned retirement benefits first, then add an additional amount if necessary to bring the payment up to what they are entitled to as a spouse or surviving spouse. So in your wife’s case, she now receives (while you both live) her own social security benefit plus a “spouse boost” to make her payment equal to what she’s owed in as your spouse. Your wife’s spousal support was not deducted from your benefit payment – you still receive your own retirement benefit – but her spousal support amount was calculated by comparing the amount she was entitled to full retirement age (FRA) at 50% of your FRA benefit and then reducing the amount of spousal support because she applied at age 62 (all Social Security benefits except disability benefits, taken before the FRA are reduced).
As for your wife’s benefits as a survivor, since her own Social Security retirement benefit is smaller, if you die first, the additional amount of “spouse boost” than your wife now receiving will cease and be replaced by a higher supplement that brings her total payment to what she is entitled to as a surviving widow.
As a spouse during your lifetime, your spouse could have received a maximum of 50% of the benefit amount to which you were entitled at full retirement age (FRA) of 66, but she receives less than that because which she claimed at the age of 62. However, if you die, your spouse will receive a higher total amount made up of her 62-year benefit that she personally earned, plus an additional amount to make her payment equal to 100% of the amount you received on your death. In fact, the amount of its death benefit may even be greater than what you receive on your death, as it will receive at least 82.5% of your “primary insurance amount” or “PIA”, which is the benefit that was due to you at age 66 (your FRA).
Think of it this way – as a surviving spouse, the total amount of benefits paid to your spouse will be either 100% of the benefit you were receiving when you died, or 82.5% of the benefit you were entitled to. 66, whichever is greater. . And that will replace the smaller amount your wife now receives as a spouse while you both live. Of course, your spouse will need to notify Social Security of your death and do so in a timely manner to get the higher benefit she is entitled to as a surviving spouse.