Dear Liz: I am 13 years older than my wife. Is it possible for me to receive Social Security spousal benefits based on her earnings when I reach full retirement at age 66? I’d like to shift to my benefit when it reaches its maximum at age 70. If I can do this, what impact, if any, would there be on the benefits she ultimately receives?
Answer: Spousal benefits wouldn’t reduce her checks, but she has to be old enough to qualify for Social Security for you to get these benefits. Given your age gap, waiting for that day probably isn’t an optimal solution.
On the other hand, she could file for spousal benefits when she reaches her own full retirement age (which will be somewhere between 66 and 67, as the full retirement age is pushed back). That would give her own benefit a chance to grow, and she could switch to that amount if it’s larger at age 70. If she starts benefits before full retirement age, she would lose the option to switch.
AARP’s free Social Security calculator can help you figure out the claiming strategy that makes the most sense for your situation.