Social Security for Today's Seniors

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Question 7. My husband and I were married for about 35 years and recently divorced after a 9 year seperation. He is 63 and will be retiring and collecting Social Security when he is 65. I would like to retire when I am 62. Now I do know that I can draw either his Social Security or mine depending on whose is higher. When I am 62 I will most likely draw on his because I am certain his will be more then mine since I was a stay at home wife for many years. My question is if I retire at 62, do I receive benefits based on me drawing at 62, or benefits based on my ex drawing at 65 which could be a big differance?

Answer. Congress modified Social Security benefits in 1983. Now, if you were born after 1937, you can't receive full Social Security benefits at age 65. Instead, the age at which you can retire and receive full benefits (your Full Retirement Age) gradually increases depending on your date of birth, until it levels out at age 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

As a result, if your husband was born in 1938 or later and starts his Social Security benefits AT age 65, neither you nor he will be entitled to full benefits. He'll have to delay starting his Social Security benefits for at least a few months to receive full benefits. (For an easy-to-read chart of Full Retirement Ages, visit our Social Security Benefits page.)

The Full Retirement Age rule also applies to a spouse. Consequently, a spouse who elects to begin receiving Social Security benefits before reaching her Full Retirement Age (again, that's based on your date of birth), will have her benefits reduced, regardless of whether her benefits are based on her husband's earnings, or on her own, even if her husband delayed his own benefits until his Full Retirement Age.

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