Married or Divorced, Boost Your Income

Thursday, August 27, 2009, 6:28 AM | 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe but every year retirees pass up to the tune of more than $10 billion in Social Security benefits. How does it happen? Because of the spousal benefits that a lot of folks don’t know about and so they don’t claim from the department. These benefits can increase your income and solve the big puzzle that confronts so many of us when we first think about Social Security:

  • Whether to get immediate monthly income at 62 or wait and get a bigger check – maybe a lot bigger.
  • If you hold off until you are 66 – which the government considers Full Retirement Age (FRA) for people born from 1943 through 1954 – the monthly benefit will be one-third larger than if you take it at 62.
  • Wait until age 70 and the check will be 76 percent larger.

If you are married – or if you are divorced after ten years of marriage and have not remarried – you can claim a benefit not only on your own work record but also on your spouse’s.

In a Nutshell
The moneymaking lesson here is to fully explore your choices for these scenarios: Two-income couples, one-income couples and divorced singles. Use Social Security’s online calculator to play with different assumptions, or make an appointment to visit your local Social Security office. Don’t hesitate to ask agency staff to check with supervisors if they are unfamiliar with these seldom-used strategies.

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