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Can I file for my Social Security at 62 and switch to spousal benefits later?

Only if your spouse is not yet receiving retirement benefits. In this case, you can claim your own Social Security beginning at 62 and make the switch to spousal benefits when your husband or wife files. Social Security will not pay the sum of your retirement and spousal benefits; you’ll get a payment equal to the higher of the two benefits.

If your spouse is already getting Social Security when you claim benefits, you are subject to the “deemed filing” rule. Under this provision, you don’t have a choice whether to wait and switch. When you apply for your retirement benefit, you’re also automatically deemed to be applying for spousal benefits, if you're entitled to them. Again, Social Security will pay the greater of the two benefit amounts.    

Keep in mind

  • The maximum spousal benefit is 50 percent of your husband’s or wife’s primary insurance amount (the retirement benefit he or she is entitled to at full retirement age).
  • There are three exceptions to the deemed-filing rule for current spouses (it doesn’t apply to ex-spouses at all). You can file what’s called a “restricted application” for just spousal benefits if any of these is true:
    • You were born before Jan. 2, 1954, and have reached full retirement age.
    • You are caring for a child who is under 16 or disabled.
    • You are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Published October 10, 2018

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