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Can My Wife Claim and Suspend Benefits?

She needs to be full retirement age to use this option

Q. My wife and I are both 64. She is still employed. I am not, and because of health issues and the current labor market, I expect to remain unemployed. Can my wife apply for her benefit and then suspend it, so that I can claim a spousal benefit now? Assuming no health problems, she plans to work until age 66 to qualify for full retirement age benefits.

A. The right to voluntarily suspend retirement benefits applies only to workers who've reached full retirement age but are not yet 70. So your wife, I'm afraid, wouldn't qualify. But she would in two years, when she reaches age 66. For more information, see "Benefits for You as a Spouse."

You may also like: Early retirement and spousal benefits. >>

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

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