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!
“Dont imply those working outside the home dont do more work in LESS TIME than those who dont work outside the home! Been on both sides of the fence, I cant be conned, I know the deal.”
I don’t think a blanket statement works here. Probably more likely that SOME working outside the home do more work in less time than SOME who don’t, and SOME staying at home do more work in less time than SOME who work outide the home. Consider that there are all sorts of situations.Many of the stay at home moms are organizing, volunteering in the classroom, being the support or go-to person in the neighborhood and many other sorts of things which are definitely work and not play. Others do the minimum. Same with working moms. Some have demanding jobs and are tied to a desk, others have more flexible situations, others don’t have to work very much at their work and just want to work in order to get away from the work of child-rearing and be around grown-ups to have a social life. There are countless situations which make it sketchy to make a blanket statement that women who work outside the home do more work in less time.
No, I don’t think so. That could imply the spouse had worked previously and now unemployed or non-employed, as you say. The spouse in this situation never gave into the system, so she was never employed.
Of course, let’s not get ridiculous here. That’s not the point of the article what people do with their time. People work outside the home and volunteer and take care of the neighbors kids along with their own - so let’s not beat a dead drum.
I think someone got burned by a lazy stay at home ex-wife.
My son had a stroke at nine days old. He will NEVER grow up, and Ive been not working ever since.
Hes currently 12, and we try to give him as much knowledge as he can get before he reaches the plateau of his abilities. He is homeschooled, and weve attempted to fill his schedule with interesting and educational things, but it takes a lot of running around to do that.
In all probability, he will never learn to drive a car. He will never be able to support himself. He will always live with us, until we die, and we will take care of him as long as we can. Then...his brother or other family will have to take over.
Add to that the currently stable bum ticker that caused the damned stroke in the first place, and you cant begin to imagine the worry and work it takes to even keep going day after day.
I held some kind of job from the age of 12-31, when I had my first baby. Even then, when the kids went to (Catholic)school, I took a job at the school just to keep an eye on him. Now that hes not at school anymore, I stay home with him and teach him what I can while still keeping house. I can tell you that THIS is the hardest thing Ive ever done, hands down.
Oh, how I wish my Johnny would grow up one day....but he wont.
Just one of the 1/2 or 3/4 truths in this article. For anybody interested, look up the annual retirement test and adjustment of the reduction factor. 31 years was enough for me to be sick of explaining them. By the way, given the condition of the SSA "trust fund", it's optimistic to believe that benefit formulas will be static forever, therefore who the hell knows what a "break even point" will be.
There - is that simple enough for you to understand?
No = so.
And don’t forget the bon-bons.
It wasn't designed to be an only source of income that would fully support someone in their old age.
No problem, as soon as polygamy becomes the law of the land I’m gonna marry all my grandkids before I check out and let them collect “government money” in perpetuity.
If I collected welfare my whole life, when is the soonest I can start collecting my social security money?
Everyone eats bon-bons. Just don’t tell Michelle or she might take off her big belt and put it to use.
Good thinking! That could be their inheritance.
Oh, no. I know the coffers are empty. Wasnt it this year they stopped taking in enough to cover the current expenditures?
However, make note and watch the feigned surprise when they have to raise the retirement age, or taxes, or both to cover the ongoing costs.
They will all break their fingers pointing everywhere except at themselves.
If they were really honest, they would point their fingers at us, and say, “Why didn’t you stop me?”
And no, I'm not insinuating that gangs in Chicago have concerned parents. Which is exactly the point. Kids with too much unsupervised freedom will find trouble one way or the other.
I don't baby my kids, but they don't have to worry about me not being available when they need me. And someone like you would probably be surprised how much a kid needs their mom (or dad) to talk about what good or bad thing happened to them while at school.
I'm glad that your neighborhood family has great kids. Can you count more than 1 family in your neighborhood like that? 'Cause I can count a lot more two parent working families in my neighborhood that need more supervision for their kids than just 1. Most of them have preteen/teenagers.
Possibly, or he feels inadequate about his ability to provide for his own. ;) Not every family can afford to have a full-time parent at home. But for those that can or aspire to, good luck to them. It’s not something I’ll regret. I’ll finish my degree one day. ;) I’m happy I was able to be there to support my husband and my children. I can always work for someone else...that’s nothing special.
Johnny is 12 right now. We’re still seeing what he can learn. He is able to learn, but MUCH more slowly than his peers.
His verbal abilities are well below average, but he is able to speak — the same with his cognitive abilities. The more complex or abstract the idea, the less likely he is to understand it. The one exception to this is his ability to understand his religion — he gets that just fine, including his ability to serve as an altar boy at the Latin Mass we attend. He is also an exceptional speller (far better than his straight-A brother).
I believe in miracles, too, PNSN, but I must admit it gets harder as the years go by...Thank God he seems to be physically healthy at this time. We were lucky to have the finest pediatric heart surgeon in the world perform his heart surgery when he was a baby. Had he been born only a few years earlier, his chances would have been far worse.
Ah, there’s no sense complaining. This is our cross to bear, and we will bear it. Your initial comment about growing up just hit a chord, is all...please forgive my rant.
I am not sure if that is true or not, I believe it depends on how long you both had been married to each other
I’m a professional, full-time parent. Aren’t you the one who questioned just how long a kid needed to be raised? Either you don’t have kids or you shouldn’t have kids if you have to ask that kind of question.
Now look what you’ve done. He’s gone and gotten potty mouth on you!
You think a wife doesn’t do anything while she stays home> Do you think raising children, nursing them back to health when they are sick, or cleaning the house, doing the cooking, laundry, shopping for groceries, ect is nothing?
My wife and I file a joint return. My earnings are her earnings as well.
I work hard so she doesn’t have to have a job outside the home.
She damn well entitled to collect social security (when the time comes) from our joint income and taxes paid.
He’s an altar boy! WOW! So he is well behaved - he has his emotions in check. Not so with the two friends I mentioned. Totally all over the place - and not because of a lack of discipline but mentally they are unable. They cannot be left alone.
I don’t see it as a rant. You are faced with a difficult situation and when it concerns our children - it takes on another level entirely, IMO.
Someone was exaggerating a situation to suit their argument, that was the reason for that comment.
I’m rooting for Johnny, MrSpellingAce!
When it says nonworking wife, it means the wife had no paying job. That does not mean she laid on her couch all day doing nothing but eating Bonbons *rme*
Show me where you think I need that info? Did I imply that in any way? Or did I give that definition of a nonworking spouse? And was that my focus or not paying into the system? Don’t apply what others have said to me.
Get your facts straight instead of being quick to ‘act superior’ - and end up looking like a fool.
Seriously there sport, if moms were not staying home taking care of kids someone else would be getting paid to do it. So they are working they are just not getting paid. Now I dont know what happened to you that makes you so bitter about it but would you rather have the state raise kids in return for the $$ the system will get from it?
Take it easy there sparky, your gonna hurt yourself. Have your wife fix you a cocktail and relax.... unless she’s just laying around the house....then it’s no wonder your so upset.
This is hysterical. I’ve always wondered the same thing.
Does welfare count as income? And can they also include those $7,000 Earned Income Tax Credits as income, too?
Be careful with your words. Even the title of this article, with "non-working spouse", is risky.
Women have screamed from the mountaintops for years that they have "the hardest job in the world."
I must have missed it this year, but every Mother's Day that ridiculous survey is released that says that women that don't have jobs should be paid something like $175,000/yr, because they are doctors, accountants, day care workers, maids, drivers, executive assistants, ad nauseum.
You see your error so your choice was not to admit it but to act childish with the same old blah, blah, have a drink, etc. Acting like just another chump - a dime a dozen and BORING!
WE work in this house - sorry to disappoint you little one!
Its a joint tax return.
It is our joint income.
My wife is not directly employed, but without her support taking care of things on the home front, I could not make six figures where I work, so indirectly, she contributes because I pay more in (double, at least) as a result of her efforts.
It could be argued that the wife's duties at home (keeping house, raising children, etc., etc.) freed her husband to work more hours, earn more income, and contribute more into the system.
“I honestly have to say - FR has gone down the tubes.”
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Sorry you feel insulted that you feel the need to be snippy.
But the truth is - FR had many sharp posters when I lurked.
And over time they dwindled away. You were here then, you must remember.
And my response wasn’t directed at you but many posters here - who couldn’t stay on topic. Your response was more on topic than the lot.