Benefit options for couples include the normal age based choices as well as choices that will maximize benefits for both individuals. Delaying either of your individual payments will allow payments to be made while still building monthly benefits. Each member of the couple is free to file for benefits as they desire, but if you want to maximize your benefit and maximize survivor benefits you will need to look at other options that both individuals need to consider.
As with anyone, you and your spouse can file for benefits any time after age 62. You and your spouse’s monthly benefit amounts will be based on each of your full retirement age (FRA) benefits and the ages at which you begin to receive benefits. You both need to take into consideration your health, family medical histories, and financial stability when making your decision. If you have a financial advisor you may want to seek their advice before making your decision.
Social Security provides a nice foundation for your retirement income, but most people will need to combine it with other retirement incomes to lead the lifestyle they desire. It is a lifetime benefit that provides benefit payments not only for your lifetime but also that of your spouse. Once you file your applications your options are limited on what you can do to change your decisions. For more information on this subject see “Do Over Provision” later in this guide.
The reductions for receiving early benefits are similar to the individual reductions discussed in the previous section. The big difference comes in the administration of spousal benefits. To keep things consistent, I will cover all couples’ scenarios from the beginning.