1. Pick which retirement you want; yours or your spouse’s. Obviously select the one that pays you the most. Often in a marriage there is a huge difference in wages. But even if the lower wage earner worked and has their own Social Security benefit, he or she may elect to receive an amount equal to half of their spouse’s instead. This is called your Spousal Benefit.
2. Double dip. A person who has reached full retirement age could elect to take his or her Spousal Benefit and delay taking their own Social Security benefit. Working or not, take your Spousal Benefit and delay your own and let it grow until you’re age 70. It doesn’t matter if your spouse is taking their Social Security benefit or not. Upon age 70, if your own benefit is higher than the Spousal Benefit you’ve been receiving, just swap and take your own. That’s more money for you now and potentially more money for you later.
3. Getting paid to wait. Typically, when one spouse hasn’t worked outside of the home as much as their mate, she won’t have much, if any, Social Security benefit and will default to receiving her payments when her higher earning spouse retires and decides to start taking Social Security payments. Do not wait. Once both spouses reach full retirement age, the higher earner (the husband in this example) should go ahead and file for his Social Security benefits. Then the lower earning wife files for her Spousal Benefit and, step three, the husband immediately suspends his Social Security benefit request. His benefit amount will continue to increase (by about 8 percent per year) and then when he reaches age 70, he can re-file to start taking his Social Security retirement benefit. This will give the wife free monthly money instead of thinking she must wait until hubby fully retires and takes a check from Social Security before she can…very cool idea.