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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.

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


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

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • 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.

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Dan Caplinger
TMFGalagan

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 Fool.com. 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.

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