Skip to main content
No. of Recommendations: 4
DH was born in 1952 (now age 69). I was born in 1953 (now age 68). We both started collecting Social Security at age 62. This is because I expect that we will both have shortened life expectancies. The break-even calculation was age 78. DH is a smoker who already has moderate COPD; his father died of COPD at age 65. I was treated for bilateral breast cancer at age 62, in 2015. My mother died of cancer at age 72 so I feel like I have a sell-by stamp on my butt. However, I have a cousin who has survived breast cancer for over 20 years after treatment so it's hard to say for sure.

I have just been reading about spousal Social Security benefits in "Money Magic: An Economist's Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life," by Laurence J. Kotlikoff. If I understand him correctly, I can turn off my own Social Security and claim a "spousal benefit" which would be half of my husband's Social Security. (Which is less than mine because I worked longer than he did.) Then I can wait until age 70 to re-start my own Social Security which will then pay a higher amount than the early (age 62) benefit.

This is what Social Security says:

Suspending Your Retirement Benefit Payments

If you have reached full retirement age, but are not yet age 70, you can ask us to suspend your retirement benefit payments. By doing this, you will earn delayed retirement credits for each month your benefits are suspended which will result in a higher benefit payment to you.

If your benefit payments are suspended, they will automatically start again the month you reach age 70.

What is the eligibility for Social Security spouse’s benefits and my own retirement benefits? (This is a separate page from the previous one.)

If you have not worked or do not have enough Social Security credits to qualify for your own Social Security benefits, you may be able to receive spouse’s benefits.
To qualify for spouse’s benefits, you must be one of these:

At least 62 years of age.

Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to one-half the amount your spouse is entitled to receive at their full retirement age. ...

You will receive your full spouse’s benefit amount if you wait until you reach full retirement age to begin receiving benefits. [I qualify since I am age 68.]

If you do have enough credits to qualify for your own Social Security benefits and you apply for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit...
[end quote]

Prof. Kotlikoff says that the Social Security web pages are often misleading. He also makes a very strong point that people can live much longer than they expect to. So it may make sense for me to suspend my Social Security and apply for a spousal Social Security benefit for the next 2 years in order to bump up my benefits starting at age 70.

Has anyone here done that? What procedure did you follow?
Print the post  


The Retirement Investing Board
This is the board for all discussions related to Investing for and during retirement. To keep the board relevant and Foolish to everyone, please avoid making any posts pertaining to political partisanship. Fool on and Retire on!
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.