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Social Security Spouse Benefits Calculator

Spousal Benefits For Widows And Widowers

Calculating Social Security Spousal Benefits with Dual Entitlement

A widow or widower can receive up to 100% of a spouse’s benefit amount. That’s if the survivor has reached full retirement age at the time of the application.

The payment is reduced to somewhere between 71% and 99% of the deceased’s entitlement if the widowed person is at least 60 but under full retirement age.

Disabled people can apply as early as age 50. The agency has a streamlined application process to avoid delays in the first payment.

You may be eligible for benefits even if your spouse died long before reaching retirement age. Every employee racks up annual Social Security “credits” for working. If your spouse earned credits for at least 10 years, a spousal benefit has been earned.

It’s important to note that it pays to hold off until you reach your “full” retirement age to maximize the amount you will receive.

Also, if you are receiving spousal benefits and your spouse dies, you need to notify Social Security. Your spousal benefit of 50% of your partner’s benefit will convert to a survivor benefit of 100%.

And do it promptly. It’s not usually retroactive.

Strategies For Maximizing Spousal Benefits

Every married couple has to figure out the best way to maximize their benefits depending on their own circumstances.

The three strategies below will help you make the most of your Social Security spousal benefits, depending on your circumstances. However, keep in mind that, regardless of your circumstances, the most a spouse can get is 50% of the amount that the higher-earning partner is entitled to at full retirement age.

Social Security Benefits Calculator

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Working hard during our adult years gives us many benefits to look forward to, and one of those is our Social Security Benefit. Social Security is based on a sliding scale depending on your income, how long you work and at what age you retire. Social Security benefits automatically increase each year based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.

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    What If I Take Benefits Early

    If you choose to take your own Social Security benefit before your full retirement age, be aware that the benefit is permanently reduced by five-ninths of 1% for each month. If you start more than 36 months before your full retirement age, the worker benefit is further reduced by five-twelfths of 1% per month for the rest of retirement.

    For example, let’s assume you stop working at age 62. If your full retirement age is 67 and you elect to start benefits at age 62, the reduced benefit calculation is based on 60 months. So, the reduction for the first 36 months is 20% and then another 10% for the remaining 24 months. Overall, your benefits would be permanently reduced by 30%.

    How To Use The Social Security Benefits Calculator

    Social Security Benefits Calculator

    Not sure where to start? Let us help you:

  • Input your current age and the age you expect to retire, either by typing directly into the white boxes or by using the sliders
  • Add your current annual income and the average percentage by which you expect it to increase throughout your working life
  • Unless you know otherwise, leave the Expected Rate of Inflation box as it is
  • If you are married, and your partner does not work, tick the box to indicate this.
  • If on the other hand your spouse does work, they will be entitled to their own Social Security Benefit. To get an accurate picture of your joint situation, it is best if you calculate your benefits separately and add them together afterwards.
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    Early And Delayed Retirement Credits

    You may choose to take your Social Security benefits before or after your full retirement age, which is currently 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. If you choose to take your benefits early, you will receive a reduction in your benefit amount. Conversely, if you choose to delay taking your benefits until after your full retirement age, you will receive an increase in your benefit amount. These reductions and increases are referred to as early and delayed retirement credits.

    First Change: Timing Of Multiple Benefits

    There are incentives to delay filing for retirement benefits. Your benefits increase for each month you delay receiving retirement benefits between full retirement age and age 70.

    Before the change:

    Previously some spouses received spousal benefits at full retirement age, while letting the retirement benefits based on their earnings record grow by delaying to file for benefits.

    What did the law change?

    If you turn 62 before January 2, 2016, and:

    • You are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse in the first month you want your benefits to begin and
    • You are not yet full retirement age, you must apply for both benefits . You will receive the higher of the two benefits.

    If you turn 62 on or after January 2, 2016, and:

    • You are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse in the first month you want your benefits to begin, then:
    • Deemed filing applies at age 62 and extends to full retirement age and beyond. In addition, deemed filing may occur in any month after becoming entitled to retirement benefits.

    Deemed filing means that when you file for either your retirement or your spouses benefit, you are required or deemed to file for the other benefit as well. The Bipartisan Budget Act extends deemed filing rules to apply at full retirement age and beyond.

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    What If Youre Receiving Other Benefits

    Suppose that youre also a member of another government pension plan, but no organization ever withheld any payroll taxes to pay for that coverage. In this case, Social Security would impose a reduction in your spousal benefit equivalent to a 66% decrease in the pension amount.

    To simplify, for example lets assume that youre collecting $600 each month from another federal or state government pension plan that never withheld any Social Security taxes. Your Social Security payment would in this case be lowered by $400.

    How To Calculate A Social Securitys Spousal Benefit

    Social Security Spousal Benefits: The Easy Calculation

    If youre married to someone who works outside the home and contributes to Social Security through payroll tax, you might be entitled to a Social Security benefit based upon your partners income.

    The maximum amount you will receive is 50% of their Primary Insurance Amount — this is the monthly income they are eligible to receive at full retirement age . However, you will only receive 50% of this amount if you postpone filing until you are full retirement age- currently 66.

    If you file for a spousal benefit before age 66, the percentage you receive depends upon your age. Theres a two-stage process as to how Social Security calculates the reduction and it’s based upon how many months ahead of your FRA you are filing:

    For the first 36 months before age 66 that you apply for a spousal benefit, your check is reduced by 25/36 of one percent. For each additional month that you file early, the reduction is 5/12 of one percent.

    The following example illustrates how this applies. It assumes that your full retirement age is 66 and your partners PIA is $2,000/month.

    Theres a calculator on the Social Security website that allows you to enter your information to find out how your spousal benefit will be affected if you file prior to your full retirement age.

    Here are some other things you need to be aware of when claiming spousal benefits:

    Coming Up Next week: Social Security and divorce: What it takes to collect on your exs earnings history.

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    Ask Larry: Can Social Security’s Benefit Estimates Be Accurate Without Including 2022 Earnings

    Ask Larry

    Economic Security Planning, Inc.

    Today’s Social Security column addresses questions about how accurate SSA’s benefit rate estimates actually can be, the timing of benefit payments each month and taking spousal benefits after retirement benefits. Larry Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc.

    Have Social Security questions of your own youd like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.

    Can Social Security’s Benefit Estimates Be Accurate Without Including 2022 Earnings?

    Hi Larry, While using the calculator at ssa.gov, it shows my husband’s estimated full retirement amount. But I see where it is saying there are no recorded wages for 2022, though he worked the entire year.

    All the prior years amounts are accurate. It does have an amount they are using, which seems roughly realistic, for future earnings. Is the estimated full retirement amount accurate or is it not because its not showing any earnings for 2022? Thanks, Carroll

    How Does The Social Security Administration Calculate Benefits

    Benefits also depend on how much money youâve earned in life. The Social Security Administration takes your highest-earning 35 years of covered wages and averages them, indexing for inflation. They give you a big fat âzeroâ for each year you donât have earnings, so people who worked for fewer than 35 years may see lower benefits.

    The Social Security Administration also makes annual Cost of Living Adjustments, even as you collect benefits. That means the retirement income you collect from Social Security has built-in protection against inflation. For many people, Social Security is the only form of retirement income they have that is directly linked to inflation. Itâs a big perk that doesnât get a lot of attention.

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    A Guide On Taking Social Security

    Deciding when to take Social Security depends heavily on your circumstances. You can start taking it as early as age 62 , or you can wait until youve reached full retirement age or age 70 based on your work history. While theres no correct claiming age for everybody, the rule of thumb is that if you can afford to wait, delaying Social Security can pay off over a long retirement. Here are some guidelines to consider.

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    How Does Social Security Work? Top Questions Answered

    Hi Carroll, It’s much too soon to expect anyone’s 2022 earnings to be posted to their Social Security earnings history. The earnings information posted to a person’s Social Security earnings history comes from W-2 forms for wages, and tax returns for self-employment earnings.

    So your husband’s 2022 earnings won’t be posted to his Social Security earnings history until sometime after either his W-2 form is issued or his 2022 tax return is received by the IRS.

    Social Security generally has prior year wages posted to a person’s earnings history by April or May of the year after the year of earnings, but self-employment earnings can take longer depending on when the person’s files their tax return.

    As for whether or not your husband’s benefit estimate is accurate, that depends on his full earnings history. Social Security retirement benefits are based on an average of a person’s highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings, so your husband’s 2022 earnings would only affect his benefit rate is that year was among his highest 35 earnings years.

    Also, as you mentioned, Social Security sometimes includes assumed future year earnings amounts when providing estimates, so their benefit estimates are only as accurate as those future year earnings projections turn out to be.

    Do I Need To Contact Social Security About My Payment Date?

    Can I Take My Own Retirement Now And Switch To Spousal Benefits When My Husband Retires?

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    One Calculation Two Answers

    The SSA calculators produce two sets of results – measured in current dollars and future dollars. Picking the right one for your retirement planning is where things get a little confusing. This choice makes no small difference either – your future dollar estimate can easily be twice as large as your current dollar one!

    Current dollar estimates help you understand the value of your benefit

    Your current dollar results illustrate how much your Social Security benefit is worth in today’s dollars.

    Put simply, if your current dollar Social Security benefit estimate is $2,000 a month, it means that your actual benefit at the time you retire will be enough to afford what $2,000 a month can afford today.

    However, your current dollar estimate assumes that both your salary and the national wage index will remain fixed until you retire. Therefore, unless you are within a couple years of retirement, this number is far below the actual dollar amount you can reasonably expect to receive. So, while it is a great number to have for your own understanding, it may not be the right number for retirement planning.

    Realistic retirement planning uses future dollars

    Your retirement planning is only as accurate as the projections it makes. Each financial aspect has its own reasonable growth rate – your investments, your personal expenses, your salary, your property taxes, your mortgage, your health care costs, etc.

    Should You Wait Until You’re Older To Get A Bigger Payout Or Retire Early With A Smaller Payout

    “Social Security can act as insurance against living longer than you anticipate, and it provides some inflation protection since your benefit is adjusted for cost-of-living increases,” Tierney said. “The longer you or your spouse expect to live, the more it may make sense to wait to claim your Social Security benefit.”

    But just because you decide to wait to claim your benefits doesn’t mean you have to delay your retirement, she explained. However, you should make sure you’ve got income coming in from your 401 or other investments so you can afford your living expenses if you delay claiming your benefit.

    However, if you’re solely relying on Social Security benefits to pay for your expenses in retirement, waiting to retire and claiming your benefits at a later date could be a better choice. You’ll receive more money each month and you’ll have more time to save for retirement.

    Also, if you choose to retire early, your benefits will be reduced for each month before full retirement age. For instance, if you were born in 1960 or later and retire at age 62 with a retirement benefit of $1,000 per month, your payment would be reduced to $700 .

    On the plus side, that’s still $700 you would otherwise not receive during that time if you didn’t draw your Social Security benefits. So you might benefit from collecting payments over a longer period of time.

    Is it possible to run out of money after retiring early?

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    Your Benefit Could Be Reduced Or Denied If Your Ex

    Fidelity surveyed* more than 1,000 people, asking whether they believed that an ex-spouse could influence their Social Security benefits. Fifty-two percent said yes, they could. The actual answer is no.

    There are a lot of things an ex-spouse might do to complicate your life, but Social Security is off limits. Your ex has no influence over your benefits. When you are ready to claim your Social Security benefit, you simply make an appointment with your local SSA office and bring documents that prove the marriage and divorce. They will calculate your benefit options, and assuming you meet the criteria discussed earlier, youll receive the higher benefit based on your ex-spouses PIA.

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    To Wait Or Not To Wait

    How Are Social Security Spousal Benefits Calculated

    Consider taking benefits earlier if . . .

    • You are no longer working and can’t make ends meet without your benefits.
    • You are in poor health and don’t expect the surviving member of the household to make it to average life expectancy.
    • You are the lower-earning spouse, and your higher-earning spouse can wait to file for a higher benefit.

    Consider waiting to take benefits if . . .

    • You are still working and make enough to impact the taxability of your benefits.
    • Either you or your spouse are in good health and expect to exceed average life expectancy.
    • You are the higher-earning spouse and want to be sure your surviving spouse receives the highest possible benefit.

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    Where Can You Get Reliable Social Security Benefit Estimates

    The SSA offers a couple of free calculators, which use the exact same math that goes in determining your actual benefits. The only difference is how they handle your earnings history:

    The Quick Calculator estimates your past earnings based on your current salary, with an option to enter your actual pay history.

    My Social Security Retirement Calculator looks up your actual earnings history but requires online registration and a rigorous verification process.

    For your convenience, MoneyBee exactly matches these calculators, provided you use the same earnings history. This way, you don’t have to go back and forth between the SSA’s calculators and your retirement calculator for each retirement age scenario.

    Who Qualifies For Social Security Spousal Benefits

    If your spouse has filed for Social Security benefits, you can also collect benefits based on the spouse’s work record, if:

    • You are at least 62 years old.
    • Regardless of your age, if you care for a child who is entitled to receive benefits on your spouseâs record, and who is under age 16 or disabled.

    When you apply for spousal benefits, you will also be applying for benefits based on your own work history. If you’re eligible for benefits based on your own earnings, and that benefit amount is higher than your spousal benefit, that’s what you’ll get. If it is lower, you’ll get the spousal benefit.

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    The Voluntary Suspension Loophole

    Prior to April 30th, 2016, this Social Security loophole allowed a married worker to voluntarily suspend his/her own benefits after full retirement age, allowing the spouse to receive spousal benefits while the worker was not collecting benefits. Effective April 30, 2016, spousal benefits can only be received if the worker spouse is collecting retirement benefits.

    If you are receiving a divorced spouse benefit, the change in the law does not apply to you. You may continue to receive a spousal benefit if your ex-spouse decides to voluntarily suspend his/her benefit.

    You may wonder if there is any reason to use the file-and-suspend strategy today, and the answer is yes, maybe! If you started receiving benefits but would now like to voluntarily suspend and earn higher benefits for delaying, you can do so. This may be the case if you started receiving benefits, but then gained some type of employment, received an inheritance, or suddenly discovered you do not need the benefits youve been receiving. If thats the case, you can suspend your benefit so that you earn delayed credits. But please note, if your spouse was receiving a spousal benefit, that benefit will be suspended as well. And, to voluntarily suspend, you must have at least reached your full retirement age.

    Both loopholes are discussed more in-depth at .1

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