Switching Spousal Benefits

Two years ago, on my 66th birthday, I filed for social security benefits and immediately suspended payments until I reach 70. On the same day my wife, who is two years older, filed to receive spousal benefits.

My wife is now 70 and has filed to receive benefits under her own account which will amount to an extra $400 a month over the spousal benefits she has been receiving.

I then asked our local Social Security office to receive spousal benefits myself until I reach 70 in mid-2015. I was told that this is not possible as I have already filed for my benefits back in 2011.

The social security report in ESPlanner Plus seems to indicate that I am due spousal benefits until age 70. Can you give me any guidance on this?


I have a question similar to swiftharbor's question. Neither I nor my spouse has yet filed for social security; we are both turning 62 in 2014. Our strategy was going to be that my spouse files at 62; I file for spouse benefits at 66 and my own benefits at 70. At 70, my spouse then files for the spouse benefit (which would be about $5600/year more). However, when I put this into ESPlanner, it did not allow my spouse to change to the spouse benefit when I file for my full benefit at 70. Why not? The Social Security Administration manual on Retirement Benefits available on social security.gov states, "If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit." But is there a rule that once a person has filed for their own benefit, they are never again eligible for a spouse benefit?

Your wife's excess spouse's benefit is 1/2 of your full retirement age (FRA) retirement benefit minus her FRA retirement benefit.
Hence, if her FRA retirement benefit is larger than 1/2 of your FRA retirement benefit then she's not entitled to a spouse's benefit.

Remember, if she files early her retirement benefit is permanently reduced, so don't use her reduced retirement benefit when calculating her spouse's benefit. Use her FRA retirement benefit.


Thanks, that's helpful. I did not realize that calculating an excess spouse benefit was all done using the FRA amounts.

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