Dear Rusty: My wife isn’t getting half of my Social Security benefit amount. Shouldn’t she be? Signed: Feeling Cheated
Dear Feeling Cheated: A spouse does not always receive 50 percent of the higher-earning spouse’s Social Security benefit, because it depends on the age at which both of you claimed Social Security and whether your wife was entitled to benefits from her own lifetime work record.
If your wife is entitled to Social Security on her own work record and claimed that before she reached her full retirement age (FRA), she would never get half of your benefit amount as your spouse because she claimed her own benefit early. Your wife’s spousal benefit consists of both her own benefit and a “spousal boost,” so claiming her own reduced benefit early would also result in a lower spousal benefit.
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