Social Security: Is Taking Spousal Benefits Early Smart?

Coordinating Social Security benefits can be tough, especially when you're entitled to both spousal benefits and payouts based on your own work history. In many cases, you have to be careful not to make mistakes.

In the following video from our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Fool reader Marsha, who asks whether she can claim spousal benefits early at age 62 and then claim her own full benefits at at age 66. Dan notes that in general, you can't take spousal benefits before full retirement age without having a negative impact on your own benefits as well, even if you don't want to take them until later. By contrast, if you wait until full retirement age to take spousal benefits, then you can keep waiting before you take your own benefits and thereby get the best of both worlds that way. Dan concludes that it's always smart to double-check the rules before making an important Social Security decision.

How to get even more income during retirement
Social Security plays a key role in your financial security, but it's not the only way to boost your retirement income. In our brand-new free report, our retirement experts give their insight on a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule that can help ensure a more comfortable retirement for you and your family. Click here to get your copy today.

Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:46 AM, Zabeach wrote:

    I think you incorrect, particularly for divorced spouses. A divorced spouse can collect on the ex-spouse at age 62 and defer claiming their own social security until age 70.

    In addition, divorced spouses can also claim survivor benefits when their ex dies.

    The above assumes the marriage lasted over 10 years.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:47 AM, Zabeach wrote:

    I was told the above information by the Social Security Administration.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 2:03 PM, JoeyVenn wrote:

    When is it better to wait a year after full retire, gain an extra 8% in payout after one year. I figure to give up $24,000 if I decide to retire at 67 instead of 66, but get an extra $180.month when I do retire. breakeven is 12 years, so if I live past 79 it was a good decision to delay full retire one year.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2961739, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/4/2015 11:59:44 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

Today's Market

updated 2 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,102.38 -272.38 -1.66%
S&P 500 1,921.22 -29.91 -1.53%
NASD 4,683.92 -49.58 -1.05%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes