Question: I am 79 years-old and my wife is 78. We both took early retirement at age 62. My wife's Social Security is less than half of mine. Is it possible for her to change and claim half of mine instead of her own?
Answer: Because the benefit was started at age 62, the reduction factor that applied makes your wife's benefit less than half of your benefit amount, says Donna Clements, manager of Social Security and Medicare Services at Mercer, which publishes this guide. "Your wife would have gotten 50% of your benefit if she had waited until her full retirement age to start collecting her Social Security benefit based on your work record," she said. Read more here.
Question: I was born in 1953 and my full retirement age is 66. My wife was born in 1955 and her FRA is 66 and 2 months. I'm semi-retired now but not collecting Social Security yet but will do so in September when I turn 65 and my monthly payment will be about $2,650 per month.
My wife is turning 63 in May and wants to retire and start Social Security right away. Using the Social Security website, that's roughly $1,250 a month.
Are there any benefits for her to wait until I start collecting and then collect under mine which would be $1,325 per month (I believe she can collect half of mine) or is she still penalized for collecting early? If she does collect under mine, can she then refile and collect under hers when she reaches full retirement age?
Answer: When you retire before your full retirement age, a reduction will apply to your Social Security benefit, says Clements. When she applies for her benefit, Social Security will look at all her eligible benefits and pay the equivalent of the higher amount, she says.
"This means she would get the benefit based on her work record first and then if the spouse's benefit is higher, she would get the difference between the two to make it equal the higher benefit," said Clements.
For example, if she gets $1,000 on her work record but also qualifies for a spouse's benefit of $1,500; she would get $1,000 based on her work record and $500 based on her spouse's benefit, a monthly benefit totaling $1,500. "Again, both benefits will be reduced based on retiring before her full retirement age," said Clements. "She would only get the full spouse's benefit of 50% if she waits until her full retirement age."
Got questions about the new tax law, Social Security, Medicare, retirement, investments, or money in general? Want to be considered for a Money Makeover? Email Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com. Kim McSheridan assisted with this report.