Ask Rusty – Can My Wife Claim a Spouse Benefit First?

Dear Rusty: I have been getting Social Security since age 66. My wife turned 62 in June. We are thinking of taking her spouse benefits on my record since it would be higher than hers (we checked online). We began filling out the application but do not see a way to let them know we want her to receive spouse benefits and not her own. How do we do that? Signed: Trying to Apply

Dear Trying: You don’t see that option because your wife doesn’t have the option to collect only a spousal benefit from you without also claiming her own benefit. That option was eliminated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 for anyone born after January 1, 1954. So, if your wife claims any SS benefit now, she will be automatically deemed to be filing for both her own benefit (from her own work record) as well as her spousal benefit from you. She can’t delay taking her own benefit when she claims. Your wife’s benefit will consist of her own benefit plus, if she is entitled to one, a “spousal boost” to bring her payment up to her spousal entitlement and, claimed at age 62, both her own benefit and her spousal boost will be reduced. But there are some other factors to consider:

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