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%.
John Grobe’s latest book, The Answer Book on Your Federal Employee Benefits, has just been released by LRP Publications. Order your copy at shoplrp.com. Ask your human resources office to contact Federal Career Experts about pre-retirement training.