When I take Social Security, what happens for my wife?

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Q. My wife turns 62 this summer. She’ll get a small Social Security benefit and she wants to start collecting. I don’t turn 62 for a while and I plan to delay my benefits. What happens to her benefit when I start taking mine?
— Almost retired

A. We’re glad you asked.

Married couples have options for benefits, and if you plan together, you can maximize your monthly checks.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed into law on Nov. 2, 2015, eliminated some of the strategies that were available to married couples of a certain age. N

Based on your ages, you will have to count on the “deemed filing” rule, said Gerard Papetti, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

According to the Social Security handbook, section 1510: “If you are eligible for both reduced retirement insurance benefits and reduced spouse’s insurance benefits, you cannot restrict an application to just one of these types of benefits. By filing for either benefit, you are deemed by law to have filed for both types of benefits.”

That means if you turn age 62 on or after Jan. 2, 2016, you are required or “deemed” to file for both your own retirement and for any benefits you are due as a spouse, no matter what age you are, Papetti said.

So based on your ages, Papetti said, you are both subject to the new “deemed filing” rule that if you file for any benefit, you are “deemed to be filing” for all benefits for which you may be eligible.

“A person can file for their early retirement benefits at age 62 and then switch to a spousal benefit if higher only if their spouse is not yet receiving retirement benefits,” he said. “In this case, they can claim their own Social Security beginning at 62 and make the switch to spousal benefits when their husband or wife files.”

Social Security will not pay the sum of their retirement and spousal benefits, he said. Instead, you’ll get a payment equal to the higher of the two benefits.

Email your questions to moc.p1582215758leHye1582215758noMJN1582215758@ksA1582215758.

This story was originally published on Aug. 16, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.