Part 3. Social Security Spousal Benefits.
In retirement planning, an overlooked source of income is the Social Security spousal benefit. During your lifetime, your spouse may collect social security benefits based on your earnings or benefits based on his or her earnings. If your spouse has low earnings or has never worked, the spousal benefit will most likely be higher than his or her own benefit. The same rule applies to you. You may collect spousal benefits based on your spouse's earnings rather than collecting your own benefit. You and your spouse also have the option of collecting spousal benefits and then collecting your own benefits at a later age. Before filing for benefits, both you and your spouse should review the following: 1) the benefits that you are entitled to collect based on your earnings at various ages; 2) the spousal benefits that both of you are entitled to collect, based on the earnings of the other spouse; 3) your plans to continue working before or after full retirement age (currently age 66); and 4) some options for filing, such as "file and suspend", which allows your spouse to start collecting spousal benefits while you continue to work. Analyzing these options will enable you and your spouse to maximize the benefits that both of you can collect.