Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

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saagar_is_cool
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Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by saagar_is_cool » Mon May 13, 2019 8:03 am

My wife hasn’t worked initially. Now that she is, I see her SSN total contributions will be lower. My income has been rising at a decent percentage and SSN statement shows decent payout when SSN benefit age hits. My question is, if she only works for 10 years at basic pay and meets SSN credits requirement, will she lose out on a higher amount of survivor benefits because she got minimal SSN payout. Or does she get both hers and also survivor benefits. Please advise.

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jhfenton
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by jhfenton » Mon May 13, 2019 8:06 am

saagar_is_cool wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:03 am
My wife hasn’t worked initially. Now that she is, I see her SSN total contributions will be lower. My income has been rising at a decent percentage and SSN statement shows decent payout when SSN benefit age hits. My question is, if she only works for 10 years at basic pay and meets SSN credits requirement, will she lose out on a higher amount of survivor benefits because she got minimal SSN payout. Or does she get both hers and also survivor benefits. Please advise.
You never lose out because you earn your own benefit. You also don't get both. You get the higher of your own or your spousal benefit.

Bacchus01
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon May 13, 2019 8:06 am

There are a lot of details here that are relevant, like age of both spouses, when they take benefit, etc. but I’m general, the lower wage earner will get the higher of their own benefit or 50% of their spousal benefit.

There is a lot that goes into the calculation, but that is the starting point.

dbr
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by dbr » Mon May 13, 2019 8:11 am

SS will pay the higher of any qualified benefits, though you may have to apply as such. What you don't want to do is let her apply before her full retirement age as that will permanently reduce any benefits. It can happen but probably would not here that a person is qualified for more income on their own record at age 70 and more as spouse at age 66, and one changes over.

A note on terminology: SSN means Social Security Number, SS means Social Security, SSA means Social Security Administration, SSI means Supplemental Security Income, and SSDI means Social Security Disability Insurance. Also you probably mean Spousal benefit, not Survivor benefit as Survivor benefit only applies for her if you are dead. There is also such a thing as filing for Spousal benefits on the account of a spouse one has divorced. It is possible to be confused about what one means exactly.

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saagar_is_cool
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by saagar_is_cool » Mon May 13, 2019 8:19 am

dbr wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:11 am
SS will pay the higher of any qualified benefits, though you may have to apply as such. What you don't want to do is let her apply before her full retirement age as that will permanently reduce any benefits. It can happen but probably would not here that a person is qualified for more income on their own record at age 70 and more as spouse at age 66, and one changes over.

A note on terminology: SSN means Social Security Number, SS means Social Security, SSA means Social Security Administration, SSI means Supplemental Security Income, and SSDI means Social Security Disability Insurance. Also you probably mean Spousal benefit, not Survivor benefit as Survivor benefit only applies for her if you are dead. There is also such a thing as filing for Spousal benefits on the account of a spouse one has divorced. It is possible to be confused about what one means exactly.
Thank you for elaborating on this. Does this mean that if we stay married, I will get my benefit and in addition she gets 50% of mine as spousal benefit making it 150%

dbr
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by dbr » Mon May 13, 2019 8:27 am

saagar_is_cool wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:19 am
dbr wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:11 am
SS will pay the higher of any qualified benefits, though you may have to apply as such. What you don't want to do is let her apply before her full retirement age as that will permanently reduce any benefits. It can happen but probably would not here that a person is qualified for more income on their own record at age 70 and more as spouse at age 66, and one changes over.

A note on terminology: SSN means Social Security Number, SS means Social Security, SSA means Social Security Administration, SSI means Supplemental Security Income, and SSDI means Social Security Disability Insurance. Also you probably mean Spousal benefit, not Survivor benefit as Survivor benefit only applies for her if you are dead. There is also such a thing as filing for Spousal benefits on the account of a spouse one has divorced. It is possible to be confused about what one means exactly.
Thank you for elaborating on this. Does this mean that if we stay married, I will get my benefit and in addition she gets 50% of mine as spousal benefit making it 150%
Correct. And, if/when you die she gets your benefit as a survivor for a loss of 1/3 not 1/2 the benefit, and if/when she dies you still get your benefit, again losing only 1/3 of the total.

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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by soccerrules » Mon May 13, 2019 8:49 am

In general the low earning spouse will receive up to 50% of the High earning spouses PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) which is the amount the higher earner will/would receive at FRA. Technically for the lower earner (if they qualify for their own benefit) will receive their own benefit plus additional amount up to a total of 50% of the High earners wages. It's semantics, but how SSA calculates.
Don't let your outflow exceed your income or your upkeep will be your downfall.

Bacchus01
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:10 am

dbr wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:11 am
SS will pay the higher of any qualified benefits, though you may have to apply as such. What you don't want to do is let her apply before her full retirement age as that will permanently reduce any benefits. It can happen but probably would not here that a person is qualified for more income on their own record at age 70 and more as spouse at age 66, and one changes over.

A note on terminology: SSN means Social Security Number, SS means Social Security, SSA means Social Security Administration, SSI means Supplemental Security Income, and SSDI means Social Security Disability Insurance. Also you probably mean Spousal benefit, not Survivor benefit as Survivor benefit only applies for her if you are dead. There is also such a thing as filing for Spousal benefits on the account of a spouse one has divorced. It is possible to be confused about what one means exactly.
You MAY not want her to file early. Or you MAY want her to file early. That is a statement that must be evaluated based on other factors.

For example, my wife, the lower earner, is 5 years older than me. The math appears to work that she should take hers, at a much reduced rate, as early as possible while we wait until 70 to take mine. We would draw hers for like 15 years before taking mine.

Use opensocialsecurity tool online.

dbr
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by dbr » Mon May 13, 2019 9:13 am

Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:10 am
dbr wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:11 am
SS will pay the higher of any qualified benefits, though you may have to apply as such. What you don't want to do is let her apply before her full retirement age as that will permanently reduce any benefits. It can happen but probably would not here that a person is qualified for more income on their own record at age 70 and more as spouse at age 66, and one changes over.

A note on terminology: SSN means Social Security Number, SS means Social Security, SSA means Social Security Administration, SSI means Supplemental Security Income, and SSDI means Social Security Disability Insurance. Also you probably mean Spousal benefit, not Survivor benefit as Survivor benefit only applies for her if you are dead. There is also such a thing as filing for Spousal benefits on the account of a spouse one has divorced. It is possible to be confused about what one means exactly.
You MAY not want her to file early. Or you MAY want her to file early. That is a statement that must be evaluated based on other factors.

For example, my wife, the lower earner, is 5 years older than me. The math appears to work that she should take hers, at a much reduced rate, as early as possible while we wait until 70 to take mine. We would draw hers for like 15 years before taking mine.

Use opensocialsecurity tool online.
I agree. I and others should not be too quick to make simple statements. We used a SS optimizer tool to check the best recommendation for our situation.

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HueyLD
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by HueyLD » Mon May 13, 2019 12:15 pm

saagar_is_cool wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:03 am
My wife hasn’t worked initially. Now that she is, I see her SSN total contributions will be lower. My income has been rising at a decent percentage and SSN statement shows decent payout when SSN benefit age hits. My question is, if she only works for 10 years at basic pay and meets SSN credits requirement, will she lose out on a higher amount of survivor benefits because she got minimal SSN payout. Or does she get both hers and also survivor benefits. Please advise.
How old are you and your wife?

What is the full retirement age (FRA) for each of you?

What is the primary insurance amount (PIA) for each of you?

Your questions cannot be answered without knowing the key facts.

By the way, SSN = social security number; SSB = social security benefits.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by JoeRetire » Mon May 13, 2019 1:55 pm

saagar_is_cool wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:03 am
My question is, if she only works for 10 years at basic pay and meets SSN credits requirement, will she lose out on a higher amount of survivor benefits because she got minimal SSN payout.
No.

Assuming that your benefits are higher, and assuming she starts collecting survivor benefits after her FRA, she will get exactly what you were getting before you passed - no more, no loss.
Or does she get both hers and also survivor benefits.
No. She will end up with the same amount you were getting.
Don't be a lemming.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by JoeRetire » Mon May 13, 2019 1:58 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:06 am
There are a lot of details here that are relevant, like age of both spouses, when they take benefit, etc. but I’m general, the lower wage earner will get the higher of their own benefit or 50% of their spousal benefit.
The question was about survivor benefits, not spousal benefits.
Don't be a lemming.

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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon May 13, 2019 5:29 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 1:58 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:06 am
There are a lot of details here that are relevant, like age of both spouses, when they take benefit, etc. but I’m general, the lower wage earner will get the higher of their own benefit or 50% of their spousal benefit.
The question was about survivor benefits, not spousal benefits.
Oops. It was kind of hard to tell what the OP was really asking.

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saagar_is_cool
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by saagar_is_cool » Mon May 13, 2019 7:59 pm

Sorry about the confusion all. I was not aware that spouse gets benefits when the other spouse is alive, I thought there is only survivor benefits. Anyways, my question is both then -

1. how much is the spousal benefit and is it higher of the two.
2. how much is the survivor benefits, is it full or half of the other spouse benefits.

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HueyLD
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by HueyLD » Mon May 13, 2019 8:35 pm

You need to answer the questions I asked of you previously because they are important for the answers.

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saagar_is_cool
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by saagar_is_cool » Mon May 13, 2019 9:21 pm

HueyLD wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:35 pm
You need to answer the questions I asked of you previously because they are important for the answers.
Thanks HueyD. Age, self 37 and spouse 34 this year. I have been working for 13+ years and spouse started working about 2 years ago in 2017.

Don’t know the full retirement age yet, I think we will withdraw in 60s - 62 or 67 as family history on both sides doesn’t have much longevity.

I am not sure on PIA. If it is in SSA benefits statement, I will find it tomorrow on my laptop and post here.

riverguy
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by riverguy » Mon May 13, 2019 10:00 pm

Do people really put that much thought into SS thirty years out?

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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by sailaway » Mon May 13, 2019 10:04 pm

riverguy wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:00 pm
Do people really put that much thought into SS thirty years out?
I think getting the statements in the mail for a few years got some people thinking and retirement blogs will really get other people thinking.

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HueyLD
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by HueyLD » Mon May 13, 2019 10:09 pm

saagar_is_cool wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:21 pm
HueyLD wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:35 pm
You need to answer the questions I asked of you previously because they are important for the answers.
Thanks HueyD. Age, self 37 and spouse 34 this year. I have been working for 13+ years and spouse started working about 2 years ago in 2017.

Don’t know the full retirement age yet, I think we will withdraw in 60s - 62 or 67 as family history on both sides doesn’t have much longevity.

I am not sure on PIA. If it is in SSA benefits statement, I will find it tomorrow on my laptop and post here.
Since there are decades until you turn 62, the PIAs may not be too meaningful because both of you have many years of earnings to increase your PIAs.

Assuming that there is no changes to benefit calculations between now and many decades later, here it goes:

FRA = 67 for you both

Benefit reduction for claiming early =

5/900 per month for the first 36 months and 5/1200 per month for the next 24 months if she claims at 62.

Numerically: 5/900 x 36 + 5/1200 x 24 = 30% and this is the haircut you will take for the entire time she receives the benefit.

And for as long as you are alive, she will have to live with the 30% haircut even after she becomes entitled to wife's benefit. Since she claims her own benefit before her FRA, her benefit will be her own permanently reduced benefit plus a certain amount of spousal benefit based on when you claim your benefit. The formula is complicated.

But if she becomes a widow, then her benefit will be much improved. :) There are different set of rules for widows and her widow's benefit again depends on the age she claims such benefit. For example, her widow's benefit will be 71.5% of your FRA if she claims at age 60, or 100% of your FRA if she claims at age 67. And she can start at age 60 instead of 62.

Anyway, you have plenty of time to make sure that she will have enough money to survive and social security should only be a very small portion of your planning. Other tools such as life insurance and financial assets may be more important.

There are also SS benefits for widows of any age if she is taking care of your minor children. But again the calculation is complicated.

If you are really interested in knowing all these stuff, you should go to the social security website and learn as much as possible because all such information is on the SSA website.
Last edited by HueyLD on Mon May 13, 2019 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bayview
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by bayview » Mon May 13, 2019 10:12 pm

OP, I recommend this book (very short, very concise):

https://www.amazon.com/Social-Security- ... -2-catcorr

There’s a way to order it from the Bogleheads site, but I can’t figure how to post the link.

Mike Piper posts here as Oblivious Investor, and he has also created the Open Social Security calculator. He has written a number of 100-page books on personal finance, which are regularly edited and updated.

I think that you and your wife could get a great overview of SS from this particular book.


edit to add: it’s also available in a Kindle edition.

edited AGAIN to link to the correct book
Last edited by bayview on Mon May 13, 2019 10:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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HueyLD
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Re: Does spouse get spousal SSN benefit if she had her own SSN

Post by HueyLD » Mon May 13, 2019 10:17 pm

I second the recommendation for Mike Piper's book.

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