Effective Social Security Strategies for Married and Single Individuals

While Social Security payments appear simple at first glance, the program is regulated by many rules, resulting in various claim tactics for singles and couples.

Because every partnership is different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work in every case. When it comes to receiving Social Security, there are specific fundamental standards you may be able to follow. Let's look at some of the most remarkable techniques for married couples to maximize Social Security with the guidance of professionals.

Best Social Security Strategies for married Couples

Claiming Spousal Benefits

A benefit for spouses is included in Social Security. Understanding the spouse's benefit and how to take advantage of it is, without a doubt, one of the most critical. You may believe you are not eligible for Social Security payments if you have worked long enough or contributed enough. However, irrespective of their income, any spouse can receive Social Security.

If a couple has been married for ten years or more and then chooses to divorce, each spouse is subject to a share of the other's Social Security retirement payment.

The key element is that both parties may be eligible for Social Security benefits even if a married couple divorces. Even if one of the spouses has no lifetime income, or if the wife has never worked a day and has never shown any income and is now separated from the breadwinner spouse, she will be entitled to a portion of his benefits if certain conditions are met.

One method is to claim the spousal benefit first and then defer your benefit. Although the spousal benefit is limited to 50% of the higher earner's wage, it might still be helpful if the lower earner plans to claim their benefit later.

One spouse can use this approach to postpone their benefit till they are 70 years old while still receiving the 50% spousal benefit. Because the surviving spouse will be eligible for the more considerable benefit or 100 percent of the spouse's benefit, this technique may help maximize the survivor's and retirement income.

Have you been estranged from your spouse for at least two years?

If you were married but divorced, you may be entitled to begin collecting Social Security benefits. Suppose you haven't applied for Social Security retirement benefits but are eligible (such as you are registered and have already reached the age of 66).

In that case, your ex-spouse can start receiving payments right away using your record, as long as you've been divorced for at least two years.

File an early claim for health concerns or a shortened life expectancy

People may start receiving benefits at the age of 62. Their full retirement age (FRA) will be determined by their birth year. Couples who expect to retire soon might also choose to file a claim as quickly as possible. Usually, to get the enhanced benefits to match the benefits foregone from 62 to 70, one marriage member would have to live into their late 80s.

While a pair at age 65 can expect one spouse to survive to be 85 on average, couples who can't manage to wait or have motives to plan for a shorter retirement may want to claim early.

Postponing benefits to get higher monthly payments

This argument is not unique to married couples, but there may be additional considerations if you are married, especially if you have joint finances. The most compelling incentive to postpone benefits is that each year you delay payments until full retirement age, your benefits will grow by 8%.

This growth will halt at the age of 70, but this can result in significantly bigger payouts in the long run. The issue, of course, is that none of us knows how long we'll be effective.

Social Security is a source of guaranteed income that will last until your death. If the better-earning spouse dies before their partner, the remaining spouse can benefit from the more considerable Social Security benefit. It will almost certainly be a wise choice if it is possible to live off savings, postpone retirement, or work even part-time to achieve this.

Important things to consider:

You'll require a Social Security benefit estimate

The primary insurance amount (PIA), the monthly sum you might receive depending on your usual, or complete, retirement age, is what we think of our Social Security monthly payment (FRA). Have the most current Social Security Administration assessment of your (and your spouse's) PIA, which will be based on your wage histories.

If you don't even have a recent statement or an online account, you can create one on the Social Security Administration's website. You'll be able to check your projected PIA once your account is created and you're logged in. Keep in mind that your PIA will be paid in full at your FRA.

Don't Forget About The Tax Consequences

Social Security benefits are taxable, which means they are treated as income by the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, retired couples may be subjected to unreasonably high taxes. David Sandhu, a chartered retirement planning counselor at Wise Wealth, elaborated - “For married or single individuals, it's important to understand that up to 85% of your social security benefit may be subject to taxation”.

To avoid paying the high taxes, middle-class couples could postpone filing for Social Security. On the other hand, if they anticipate being high-income taxpayers in retirement, they must consider their Medicare premiums and how they interact with their Social Security payouts.

In rare cases, a non-working spouse's Social Security benefit may be lowered due to the high taxes associated with a working spouse. Noah Schwab, CFP at Stewardship Concepts Financial Services, LLC, in Spokane, WA, explained - “A general rule for a nonworking spouse is to take social security no later than full retirement because they don’t share the benefit of delaying social security after full retirement age as the working spouse does.”

The working spouse's check may decrease since the Social Security benefit payment typically initially deducts the Medicare Part B and D premiums. In other words, high premiums can result in a lower Social Security payment.

Don't depend on generic guidelines; get assistance

It's far too crucial to leave your Social Security claim to chance. Seek counsel and assistance from a specialist who can model numerous scenarios based on your specific needs and circumstances to understand how Social Security fits your entire retirement income strategy.

Now, let’s talk about social security strategies for singles

As per 2019 U.S. Census data, singles account represents 46% of women and 30% of males over 55. These people aren't on the periphery of the senior population in the United States.

If you're single and thinking about retiring, you might have some questions regarding Social Security. You might be curious about optimizing your benefit income and how to make sure you'll be able to live comfortably.

Singles' Social Security benefits are often divided into the following categories:

Never Married, Single

Assuming it works for your financial circumstances, the most apparent solution is to delay taking full benefits until you're 70 years old. This is because the longer you wait, the higher your income will be. Full retirement benefits begin at your full retirement age (FRA), somewhere between 66 and 67 years, based on the year you were born and will increase if you wait until 70 years old.

Of course, you may not be able to wait this long–or you may wish to use your benefit sooner to protect other investments. Remember that your monthly Social Security payment will never change once you start receiving it, except for cost-of-living adjustments.

Having patience could increase your overall benefits throughout a lifetime. Consider the example of Julia, who wishes to file for benefits at the earliest possible age. Her monthly payment will be $1,400 if she retires this year and claims benefits at 62. The sum increases to $2,000 when she reaches the full retirement age of 67. The monthly payout will grow to $2,480 if she waits until she turns 70. Julia will have gotten $124,800 more in lifetime benefits by filing at age 70 than at age 62, with no inflation modifications, if she lives to 89.

Single and Divorced

To be qualified for spousal benefits after a divorce, you must generally meet the following requirements:

  • For at least ten years, you were married to your ex-spouse.
  • You should be at least 62 years old and single.
  • Your ex-spouse should be receiving Social Security benefits right now.

The monthly ex-spousal benefit payment will be worth half of your spouse's benefit at your FRA. Your ex-spouse doesn't have to be getting a Social Security payment right now; they have to be eligible.

One of the popular social security strategies for singles is to accept a spousal benefit before turning 70 and before beginning to earn your full advantage. This enables you to survive with spousal benefits until your benefits start, as long as you remain single and don't remarry.

When considering the perfect time to claim benefits on your ex-spouse's record, keep in mind that, unlike your benefits, your ex-spousal benefit does not grow past your FRA, but it will be permanently decreased if you claim it before your FRA.

t's also worth noting that filing for ex-spousal benefits has no bearing on the benefit your ex-spouse (or their spouse if they remarry) would receive, and your ex-spouse will not be alerted if you file on their behalf.

Single and Widowed

You have to be married for at least nine months before your spouse's death to be qualified for a survivor benefit, and it also depends on your deceased spouse's record. You can start getting your survivor benefit as early as you turn 60 (but if you claim before your FRA, your benefit will be irrevocably decreased), and you can get it even sooner if you are caring for the deceased's kids below the age of 16. If you divorced before your ex-spouse died, you might be eligible for survivor payments under certain circumstances.

If your spouse was getting Social Security benefits at their death, the maximum amount of survivor benefits you can get is equivalent to the sum they received. Your benefit amounts are computed as if your spouse had attained FRA even if they hadn't started receiving Social Security.

Survivor benefits are combined with personal benefits in two primary techniques. You can get survivor benefits until you reach the age of 70, after which you must move to your benefits. Alternatively, you can take your benefits first and then your survivor benefits. Your choice may be influenced by the income of your previous spouse and the technique that suits your financial condition.

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