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When I turn 62, can I collect an spousal benefit on my ex-spouse's Social Security record and then switch to the benefit on my own record at full retirement age?

No, if you claim benefits before full retirement age you will always collect benefits on your own record first.  If you are eligible for a higher benefit on an ex-spouse's record, you will receive a combination of benefits equal to the higher amount.  Claiming early will permanently reduce both benefits.  However, if you delay benefits until full retirement age this strategy becomes possible.  You can collect a spousal benefit while your benefits earn delayed retirement credits, increasing your benefit by 8% for each year you delay.

Note that a divorced spouse does not have to wait for their former spouse to receive retirement benefits in order to receive ex-spouse benefits, but again, they cannot take the spousal benefit first and switch to their own benefit later.


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