In this third article in a three-part series on claiming Social Security benefits, we discuss claiming strategies for married couples.
The good news for a couple is that they can often add more to their cumulative lifetime benefits than a single individual can by using a smart claiming strategy. The bad news is the claiming decision is much more complex. Much of the complexity revolves around the rules governing spousal benefits and survivor’s benefits.
The strategies in this article assume that no one besides the couple themselves can receive benefits based on either spouse’s earnings record. If children or parents can receive benefits based on the couple’s earnings record, the material presented here is not sufficient to make the claiming decision. The strategies further assume no pension is received by either spouse from work not covered by Social Security (e.g., public-school teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government employees). Finally, the strategies are based on the current promises of the Social Security system. The U.S. Congress may make changes at its discretion.
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