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Yes, a Nonworking Spouse Can Collect Social Security
Townhall.com ^ | May 12, 2010 | Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

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.

ANOTHER STRATEGY

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!


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
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1 posted on 05/12/2010 12:42:03 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

I do recall that my mother collected SS benefits based on my father’s contributions, even though she never worked.

I also understand that an ex-wife can claim a pro-rated portion of the ex-husband’s SS benefits (and vice versa).


2 posted on 05/12/2010 12:46:04 PM PDT by rightwingintelligentsia (Forcing one person to pay for the irresponsibility of another is NOT social justice.)
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To: Kaslin

bttt


3 posted on 05/12/2010 12:47:36 PM PDT by DallasSun (i believe in separation of church and hate.)
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

ex wife can collect if she was married for ten years


4 posted on 05/12/2010 12:52:55 PM PDT by Carley (WE CAN SEE NOVEMBER FROM OUR HOUSE)
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To: Kaslin

She hasn’t paid anything in to it but she can collect? For what, staying home breathing?

If that is the case why is it when one spouse dies, the remaining spouse can’t collect on both wage earners contributions. Say both paid in for 40 years, one dies before retirement, remaining spouse can only receive from one wage earners contributions. Yet, the one who has never paid in can collect for sitting at home.


5 posted on 05/12/2010 12:59:01 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: Carley

Can the ex-wife still collect 50%, or is the benefit reduced if, for example, the divorce was decades ago?


6 posted on 05/12/2010 12:59:36 PM PDT by Deo volente (God willing, America will survive this Obamination.)
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To: Deo volente

Yes,all your answers at Social Security.Gov


7 posted on 05/12/2010 1:01:05 PM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: Carley

I am sitting here laughing. It is going to be a nightmare for some folks, like my brother, who are on their third or fourth spouse.

Just another reason why I am glad I’ve stayed married to the same wonderful woman for the these past 24 years.


8 posted on 05/12/2010 1:04:54 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (This nation, of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished from the land.)
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

Or an ex-husband on an ex-wife. It depends on who had the greater earnings


9 posted on 05/12/2010 1:05:02 PM PDT by thinkin out loud
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To: presently no screen name

i am not sure that a “stay at home” mom would be considered, “just sitting around at home.”

Just an opinion.


10 posted on 05/12/2010 1:06:04 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (This nation, of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished from the land.)
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To: Vermont Lt

Bump.


11 posted on 05/12/2010 1:07:47 PM PDT by Cindy
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To: Vermont Lt

The money comes from the government, not from the spouse or their account.


12 posted on 05/12/2010 1:08:24 PM PDT by Carley (WE CAN SEE NOVEMBER FROM OUR HOUSE)
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To: Deo volente

As long as the marriage lasted ten years.

That’s the last information I have.


13 posted on 05/12/2010 1:08:50 PM PDT by Carley (WE CAN SEE NOVEMBER FROM OUR HOUSE)
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To: Vermont Lt

I was trying to make a point - she wasn’t contributing $$$ into the system.

Sorry if the obvious got lost in my message.


14 posted on 05/12/2010 1:09:43 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: Kaslin

Sitting at home? Yes we all know how much better it is with the little wife working and shipping the kiddies off so someone else can raise them.


15 posted on 05/12/2010 1:11:09 PM PDT by timeflies
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To: presently no screen name

Oh, you’d better put on your asbestos underwear for THAT remark!.........Ladies! Fire when ready!...............


16 posted on 05/12/2010 1:11:43 PM PDT by Red Badger (When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you'll know that its desolation is NEAR. Luke 21)
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

I dare you to tell your mom that she never worked.


17 posted on 05/12/2010 1:13:15 PM PDT by B4Ranch (Should people be questioning their government? Yes and "Where's the birth certificate?")
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To: B4Ranch

LOL


18 posted on 05/12/2010 1:14:24 PM PDT by timeflies
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To: Red Badger

I’m more than ready. The only ones that will object are the Barrybots who believe in ‘sharing the wealth’ - getting something for nothing. Let them expose themselves.


19 posted on 05/12/2010 1:15:00 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

Ex wives can only collect if they were married for more than 10 years IIRC.


20 posted on 05/12/2010 1:18:06 PM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: presently no screen name
she wasn’t contributing $$$ into the system....getting something for nothing...

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.

21 posted on 05/12/2010 1:24:06 PM PDT by ladyvet (WOLVERINES!!!!!)
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To: B4Ranch

LOL!


22 posted on 05/12/2010 1:24:10 PM PDT by rightwingintelligentsia (Forcing one person to pay for the irresponsibility of another is NOT social justice.)
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To: presently no screen name

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.


23 posted on 05/12/2010 1:27:16 PM PDT by Eepsy (www.pioacademy.org)
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To: Kaslin

it works out to poverty level no matter how you analyze it


24 posted on 05/12/2010 1:32:14 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: timeflies

I raised my own children, always considered daycare to be kiddie kennels, no thanks!


25 posted on 05/12/2010 1:37:41 PM PDT by tina07 (In loving memory of my father,WWII Vet. CBI 10/16/42-12/17/45, d. 11/1/85 -Happy B'day Daddy 2/20/23)
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To: presently no screen name
Sitting at home?

What rock did you crawl out from under?

26 posted on 05/12/2010 1:42:22 PM PDT by TNdandelion
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To: tina07

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?

Just curious.


27 posted on 05/12/2010 1:45:46 PM PDT by NoNAIS (Yet another Government program not needed.)
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To: TNdandelion
Hey sweetie - read the article my nonworking wife

Now crawl back under.
28 posted on 05/12/2010 1:46:52 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name

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?


29 posted on 05/12/2010 1:48:21 PM PDT by TNdandelion
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To: presently no screen name

I did. Would you care to expand on how you define a non-working wife? This could be interesting.


30 posted on 05/12/2010 1:51:19 PM PDT by TNdandelion
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

If they were married for then years, then yes.


31 posted on 05/12/2010 1:51:35 PM PDT by Arizona Carolyn
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To: Eepsy

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.


32 posted on 05/12/2010 1:58:40 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name

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.


33 posted on 05/12/2010 2:00:32 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (This nation, of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished from the land.)
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To: 21stCenturion

...


34 posted on 05/12/2010 2:01:49 PM PDT by 21stCenturion ("It's the Judges, Stupid !")
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To: Kaslin
A little planning can help maximize the total benefit for your household.

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.

35 posted on 05/12/2010 2:01:54 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture)
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To: TNdandelion

Ask the author of the article.

You think like clinton - depending on the ‘definition’. Definitions are tricky - so hard to understand!/s


36 posted on 05/12/2010 2:02:09 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: Vermont Lt

I agree except the system is already broke. We are on monopoly money now and Park Place is in foreclosure.


37 posted on 05/12/2010 2:04:07 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name
Social Security was designed in an Ozzie and Harriet world where women generally did not work outside the home. Social Security was intended to protect a worker and his dependents (i.e. wife and kids) if he was unable to work due to age, death or disability. Hence the spouse benefit. The worker paid for the insurance for himself and his loved ones.
38 posted on 05/12/2010 2:05:27 PM PDT by In Maryland ("Impromptu Obamanomics is getting scarier by the day ..." - Caroline Baum)
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To: TNdandelion

Daycare? How long does it take for children to grow up?


39 posted on 05/12/2010 2:06:19 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name

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?”


40 posted on 05/12/2010 2:07:09 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (This nation, of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished from the land.)
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To: NoNAIS
"I’m wondering - since there is not likely to be any money available ...

Untrue - given current taxation rates, the projections are that 77% of current benefits could be paid from current revenues, on a pay as you go basis ...

41 posted on 05/12/2010 2:09:14 PM PDT by In Maryland ("Impromptu Obamanomics is getting scarier by the day ..." - Caroline Baum)
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To: In Maryland
Social Security was intended to protect a worker and his dependents (i.e. wife and kids) if he was unable to work due to age, death or disability.

I KNOW THAT! That is not what this article is about or what I am addressing.

They state she (non working) and her husband (living) both can collect on ONE contribution.

Of course, if a spouse dies - she/he and their children get benefits - rightfully so.
42 posted on 05/12/2010 2:13:55 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: In Maryland

I have to proceed very carefully, but there is a lot of wrong/incomplete information being posted on this thread - I advise you strongly to check SSA’s website for complete, correct information.


43 posted on 05/12/2010 2:14:48 PM PDT by In Maryland ("Impromptu Obamanomics is getting scarier by the day ..." - Caroline Baum)
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To: presently no screen name
"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."

Yes, they do. And many of their children are the ones running wild around the neighborhood between the hours of 3pm-7pm when school lets out and their parents come home from work. The fire dept was at one such house just 2 weeks ago when the oldest (11yrs) turned on the oven to cook something and caught something in the oven on fire. We've also got a great after-school GANG initiation program for the kids who are really lonely.

44 posted on 05/12/2010 2:15:25 PM PDT by TNdandelion
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To: Vermont Lt

You think it’s not? They have been ‘borrowing’ from it for years. Remember what Bush wanted to implement?


45 posted on 05/12/2010 2:16:12 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name

Longer than most parents think.


46 posted on 05/12/2010 2:21:12 PM PDT by TNdandelion
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To: TNdandelion

Those kids would be running around anyway - just families are not the norm. Are you trying to insinuate all those gangs in Chicago have concerned parents? Pleeeeeeze! One or both parents are more likely at home or in jail.

Family of eight across the street - six children in private school, both parents work, they run a tight ship. They have one advantage - the grandma gets a few off the bus. Couldn’t ask for nicer kids.

It’s call arranging your life to meet the needs. Kids run wild when their home life is wild to begin with. Save you sob stories for the libs.


47 posted on 05/12/2010 2:24:11 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: TNdandelion

Longer for those parents who baby them.


48 posted on 05/12/2010 2:25:06 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: presently no screen name
"if he was unable to work due to age"

Which part of this clause did you not understand? "Retirement" was considered inability to work due to age - the only change to that is you used to have to stop working to get benefits - Clinton changed that so now Donald Trump can start collecting in 2012 when he reaches his full retirement age.

Social Security is an Insurance program, not a retirement program. If two people are eligible they can collect based on one contribution (up to the family max). If the worker has children under 16 THEY can also collect when he retires.

49 posted on 05/12/2010 2:25:45 PM PDT by In Maryland ("Impromptu Obamanomics is getting scarier by the day ..." - Caroline Baum)
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To: Kaslin

Shouldn’t this read.. .’non-employed’ spouse?


50 posted on 05/12/2010 2:27:42 PM PDT by cricket (We ARE the Truman Show)
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