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When Your Spouse Retires ... And You Don’t

What changes when one of you drops out? A lot

5 Points to Consider

  • Which spouse should retire first? It’s likely that one wants to be first, but the decision needs some sober analysis: Whose retirement will subtract the most income? Whose might cause medical coverage or other benefits to disappear—and cause a problem.


  • If you’re the one retiring, should you claim Social Security at 62, the earliest possible age? If you can afford it and are in good health, you may want to put off collecting your Social Security in order to get higher monthly benefits later on. Having your spouse continuing to work can make it easier to say no to early Social Security.


  • How could this period help you transition to joint retirement? It’s a good time to test a new budget, what you can live without and what your new expenses (health care?) may be when all you have is retirement income.


  • What about part-time work? Many retirees find that, after the initial euphoria over freedom from a job, they welcome the structure of part-time work—as well as the income.


  • Finally, are both of you in this together? Household happiness will be maximized if partners agree on the details of this next stage of life.

Gil Klein, formerly with the Media General News Service, is a freelance writer in Arlington, Va.

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