Can I Apply for Half of My Husband's Social Security While Waiting to Withdraw Mine?

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By on September 1, 2015 in Q&A, Retirement with 8 Comments

Social Security Card

Q: I am planning to retire at the end of 2015 at age 63 and waiting to withdraw my Social Security until I reach age 66. While my husband is still working, can he withdraw his Social Security at age 64? Can I apply for half of his Social Security while I am waiting to withdraw my Social Security?

A: The short answer is no. If you applied for Social Security before you reached 66, you would not be allowed to “restrict your application to spousal benefits only”, which is what you describe in your question. If you applied before 66, you would be given whichever was higher, your benefit or a spousal benefit based on your husband’s earnings.

If you want to (and if it fits in with your finances), you can wait until 66 and then apply for 1/2 of your spouse’s benefit. Once you have reached 66 (your full retirement age under Social Security), you are allowed to restrict your application to spousal benefits only. That would allow your benefit to grow by means of “delayed retirement credits”. Delayed retirement credits are 8% per year between 66 and 70, so if you waited until age 70 to apply for your own benefit, it would have grown by 32%.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at [email protected] to discuss schedules and costs.

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About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.