Blog , Finance

No Dumb Questions About Social Security – Ask Rusty

Posted on Monday, September 21, 2020
by Russell Gloor, AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor

Dear Rusty: I have some questions about Social Security, but I’ve never been old before so these may be dumb questions.

  1. My 66th birthday is in October 2021; do I put in for Social Security in January 2022? Or when?
  2. I am a 30-year military retiree. Do I need to bring my DD-214 to the SSA Office when I apply?
  3. My wife has not held a job outside the home, but she has worked as hard if not harder than me running and taking care of our home and affairs when I was away a lot of the time. She turns 66 in September 2022. Can she apply for Social Security and, if so, does she get a percentage of what I get?

Thank you for any help you can give me. Signed: Retired Military

Dear Retired Military: There are no “dumb questions,” especially when it comes to Social Security which has over 2,700 different rules sure to perplex even the most learned among us. I’ll answer your questions in the order you posed them:

  1. Your full retirement age (or “FRA”) is 66 years and 2 months. Your FRA is when you get 100% of the benefit you’ve earned from a lifetime of working. Claiming earlier will mean a reduced benefit; waiting longer can mean a larger benefit. If you wish to claim benefits at your full retirement age in December 2021, you should apply for those benefits in September 2021 (SS suggests you apply 3 months before you wish benefits to begin). Just be sure to specify your benefit start month as December to get your full benefit.
  2. You do not need your DD-214 when you apply for Social Security. Your earnings during your military career are already known to Social Security and will, along with any non-military earnings, form the basis for your Social Security benefit. Your SS benefit will be based upon the highest-earning 35-years of your lifetime earnings career (adjusted for inflation). You do not need to go to the SS office to apply; you can apply over the phone (call to make an appointment first) or online at Applying online is by far the easiest way to claim your benefits.
  3. Even though your wife is not eligible for SS benefits on her own work record, she can still collect a spousal benefit from you. If she waits until she reaches her FRA before she claims, she’ll get 50% of the benefit you are entitled to at your full retirement age. Your wife’s FRA is 66 years and 4 months and, although she can claim the spouse benefit before that, if she does it will be actuarially reduced according to the number of months before her FRA that she claims. FYI, your wife cannot collect her spousal benefit until you have started to collect your benefits.

Finally, thank you for your many years of service to our country. Your pay while serving will be part of the 35 highest-earning years over your lifetime used to compute your Social Security benefit.


This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at [email protected].


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3 years ago

i need a answer to this question, please. my wife passed away near the end of this year, she was 68, iam 65 will be 66 next may, my question is, i recieve about 25% of her ss payment cause iam not at my age for retirement, i have been told that next year i can apply for the other 50% of her ss payment. is this true?? i have been told yes. then i was tolds no. which is woiuld be a total of 75%. this would be great if i can. she was also disable and so iam to. i get now ssd. and about 25% of her ss payment. please let me know. thank you. robert butcher.

Dennis Kristof
Dennis Kristof
3 years ago

I have a dilemma. I am working at a hospital and get my medical insurance through them. My wife and I will both be turning 65 next year. I intend to keep working and have been informed that I can continue to get my health insurance through the hospital. I have also covered my wife with that insurance. She started receiving social security payouts when she turned 62. It is my understanding that she will be automatically enrolled in Medicare when he turns 65. I will be covering her under my insurance until then. Once she is enrolled in Medicare, will I still be able to make payments to my HSA? I do not anticipate enrolling in Medicare until I retire from my present job and will put off enrolling in Medicare. My big concern is that I would like to continue making payments to my HSA while I am employed.

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