Skip to comments.Yes, a Nonworking Spouse Can Collect Social Security
Posted on 05/12/2010 12:42:03 PM PDT by Kaslin
Dear Carrie: While I am still employed, can my nonworking wife retire and receive Social Security benefits? -- A Reader
Dear Reader: There's a lot of confusion about whether or not a nonworking spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits, so I'm glad you asked this question. The short answer is that a nonworking spouse who has reached age 62 can collect Social Security based on the working spouses earning's record, once the working spouse has filed for benefits.
You say that you're still employed, so I'm going to assume that you're not collecting Social Security yet. I'm also going to assume, for the sake of simplicity, that your wife doesn't qualify for her own benefits. (If she did, she could file in her own name regardless of your filing status once she turned 62.) If my assumptions are accurate, while your wife may be eligible for Social Security benefits, she can't collect until you file for benefits yourself.
This sounds clear enough, but as with so much that has to do with the government and money, there are a number of rules and exceptions to complicate things a bit.
WHAT AND WHEN A NONWORKING SPOUSE CAN COLLECT
The Social Security benefit of a nonworking spouse is 50 percent of the full benefit of the working spouse. So if your full benefit is $2,000, your wife would be able to collect $1,000. However, the age limits that apply to worker benefits also apply to spousal benefits. There are two choices. Your wife can:
-- Take Social Security at age 62. But the 50 percent spousal benefit would be further reduced by about 25 percent for the rest of her life.
-- Wait until what the IRS designates as her "full retirement age" (between 65 and 67, depending on when she was born) to receive the full spousal benefit. In this case, she will receive 50 percent of your full benefit.
Just for the record, there is an exception to the age requirement if your spouse is caring for your child who is under age 16.
WHY TIMING IS IMPORTANT
Both you and your wife should give a lot of thought to when to begin collecting Social Security. For instance, if you applied early at age 62, your benefit would be permanently reduced. If your wife also elected to take Social Security early, her 50 percent benefit would be permanently reduced. That could make a big hole in your monthly income.
While it might seem smart to begin taking benefits as soon as possible -- after all, you'll then collect checks for a longer period of time -- it's a good idea to look at your "break-even age" before making a final decision. This is how long you need to live to make sure choosing a later date will give you greater lifetime benefits. You can find a break-even calculator at IRS.gov. It's definitely worth a look. Chances are, the longer you can each wait, the better.
You don't say how old you are, but if you've reached your full retirement age, you could file for benefits, even though you're still working, and your wife could then file for the spousal benefit. At full retirement age, there's no limit on the amount you can earn and still collect full benefits. However, if you prefer to delay taking your own benefits, there's another strategy to consider. The IRS lets you file for Social Security and then immediately suspend your benefits. This would allow your wife to begin collecting a spousal benefit based on your earnings while you continue to work. At the same time, your own future benefit would continue to grow. Another plus to this strategy is that the larger your eventual benefit, the larger your wife's survivor benefit. That's because, should you die first, your wife would collect 100 percent of your Social Security.
As you can see, there are a number of things to consider. I'd suggest you talk to your financial or tax adviser about the best strategy for both you and your wife. A little planning can help maximize the total benefit for your household. And why not? After all, you've earned it!
Umm, excuse me but....I've worked and then been a stay at home mom to raise our five kids on one income. I may not have contributed $$$ into the system during that time but lots of blood,sweat and tears to raise them to be responsible adults. Marriage is a shared responsibility and if it is decided that one earner will stay at home to raise the kids then she or he is not "getting something for nothing." Sheesh.
We file taxes jointly, so even though I earn no income as a SAHM the taxes are paid in my name too. My husband earns the income he does, enabling the government to collect $$$ in taxes, because I subsidise him through free childcare and housekeeping. The SS taxes he pays removes money from my own budget as certainly as if the W2 was issued straight to me. You can bet your sweet bippy I won’t consider it something for nothing when I start collecting Social Security, if the damn thing even exists.
it works out to poverty level no matter how you analyze it
I raised my own children, always considered daycare to be kiddie kennels, no thanks!
What rock did you crawl out from under?
I’m wondering - since there is not likely to be any money available (without raising other taxes or fees) - why this really matters.
How many of you really think it will be there and have made no alternate plans?
You say she wasn’t contributing into the system. Have you taken into consideration what she may have given up financially and with regards to her education? Especially, if she has spent the last 18 years or more raising multiple children at home rather than farming them off to daycare centers and afterschool programs?
I did. Would you care to expand on how you define a non-working wife? This could be interesting.
If they were married for then years, then yes.
What you wrote applies to all married couplles filing jointly and PAY into the system. So there is no difference there - other than TWO are paying and not ONE.
Plenty of woman work when their kids become school age - lots of drama - shifting shedules, etc. but it’s done.
Don’t imply those working outside the home don’t do more work in LESS TIME than those who don’t work outside the home! Been on both sides of the fence, I can’t be conned, I know the deal.
Oh I know that.
I think that the basis was that when the system was started, one working spouse was the norm. So, the husband would go off to work at the radio tube factory, and the wife would stay home and raise the kids.
Of course, after thirty years at the radio tube factory, the husband gets lung cancer from all of the asbestos and dies. The system figured that the wife should get “something” for all of the money the hubby put into the system.
The long and short of it is that today’s generation has been lead to believe that social security will be enough to get them through retirement. What the great unwashed masses don’t really “get” is that while they were spending their own retirement funds, thinking SS would get them through—the government was spending the SS income because they couldnt keep their hands off the money.
So, in the end...the average dope that did not understand how the system works will be broke. The government will be broke.
And the radio tube factory will be long gone. So no one will be able to work longer to pay for retirement.
Any kind of planning on any government-related financial issue is just uninformed speculation at this point.
You might as well plan to open a gold mine on Mars, or not.
The country may or may not be solvent and functional a year from now.
Ask the author of the article.
You think like clinton - depending on the ‘definition’. Definitions are tricky - so hard to understand!/s
I agree except the system is already broke. We are on monopoly money now and Park Place is in foreclosure.
Daycare? How long does it take for children to grow up?
Can you imagine the utter shock when someone comes out and explains that the SS system is actually broke.
It will be like Casablanca....”there is gambling here?”