If your spouse has already filed for his or her Social Security Retirement Benefit, and you have reached full retirement age (66 for the current crop of baby boomers), you can receive a monthly spousal benefit equal to half of your retired spouse’s full retirement benefit. You can do this yourself without filing for your own retirement benefit, to which you will continue to contribute if you are still working. The spousal benefit is not deducted from your retired spouse’s monthly check, so there is no diminution in the amount your retired spouse receives.
You can receive a monthly spousal benefit if your spouse is retired but you have not reached your full retirement age but if you take the spousal benefit before your full retirement age, you will be deemed to be filing for your retirement benefit, as well. Your spousal benefit is then considered excess and it will definitely be less than half of your retired spouse’s full retirement benefit, and may even be zero.
Example: Mary is going to be 66 next month. She is working and intends to keep working for a number of years. Her husband, John, is 70 and he retired a few years ago. John’s full retirement benefit is $2,000 per month. When Mary turns 66, she is entitled to half of John’s monthly benefit, $1,000 per month, despite the fact that she is still working. Once she begins receiving her monthly spousal benefit, John will continue to receive a monthly benefit of $2,000 per month.
If you are interested in getting spousal benefits, you should make an appointment with your local Social Security Administration office to apply for the spousal benefit.