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If I wait until 70 to claim Social Security, will my spouse get a bigger benefit as well?

No. The most your spouse can receive on your work record is 50 percent of your primary insurance amount, which is the monthly benefit you are entitled to at full retirement age. (Full retirement age is currently 66 and gradually rising to 67 for people born in 1960 or later). You may boost your retirement benefit by putting off claiming Social Security until age 70 and accruing delayed retirement credits, but they do not apply to spousal benefits.

Nor does delayed retirement have any effect on the family maximum benefit — the cap on how much you, your spouse and your children can collect in total on your earnings record. The family maximum is based on your monthly benefit at full retirement age (it will be between 150 percent and 188 percent of that amount), regardless of the age at which you claimed your benefits.

Keep in mind

  • The rules are different for survivor benefits. A widow or widower whose spouse waited until 70 to file for Social Security is entitled to the full amount the deceased was getting — including the delayed retirement credits — so long as the surviving spouse has reached full retirement age.

Published October 10, 2018

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