Dear Rusty: I started drawing Social Security at age 62. At that time I checked what half of my ex-husband’s Social Security amount is and it was not much different than what I am getting so I decided to just draw off of mine. We were married 15 years. Since then my cousin mentioned I might be eligible for more money from my Social Security at age 65; is there any truth to that? Signed: Turning 65 soon.
Dear Turning: Well, since you’re already collecting your Social Security retirement benefit, there’s nothing especially significant about age 65 that will change your retirement benefit amount; but there will be a reduction in the net amount you receive because your Medicare premium will be deducted from your Social Security payment (unless you make other arrangements, in which case you’ll need to pay the Medicare premium separately). Age 65 was once the Social Security full retirement age but today it is between 66 and 67 depending upon the year you were born. In any case, since you’re already collecting Social Security, there will be no change to your benefit just because you turn 65.
Generally, once you claim your Social Security retirement benefit, it doesn’t change except for cost of living adjustments or an increase due to current high earnings replacing any past year’s earnings used to compute your original benefit amount. There is, however, another way your benefit could change – you might become entitled to a higher spousal benefit or a survivor’s benefit.
Since you say that you are drawing only your own retirement benefit and not a spousal benefit from your ex-husband, you should know that if you haven’t remarried, you may still be entitled to a larger benefit as an ex-spouse. Spousal benefits are based upon full retirement age amounts, so even if years ago you compared half of your ex-husband’s early retirement benefit to yours and found “it wasn’t much different,” you may want to verify now that your benefit as an ex-spouse isn’t more than you are currently receiving. And just to be clear, you can apply for your spousal benefit at any time before you reach your full retirement age, but it will be reduced for claiming it early.
Finally, please be aware that if your ex-husband predeceases you and you didn’t remarry before you were 60, you would be entitled to 100% of the benefit he was receiving at his death (instead of what you’re now receiving) if you have reached your full retirement age. None of this is related to you turning 65 but might nevertheless result in an immediate or future increase of your Social Security benefit.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Foundation’s website at www.amacfoundation.org.