Can I do something to get higher Social Security benefits?


Q. I began my Social Security benefits right after I turned 62. I’m 68 now. My husband is 62 going on 63 later this year. He is not taking benefits and hopes to continue to work at the very least until he’s just shy of 67-year-old mark. I knew nothing about spousal benefits at the time I signed up and my husband has always been the “big breadwinner.” Should I or could I have done something different when I first signed up? Is there something I can do to get higher benefits?
— Retired

A. We’re sorry to hear you didn’t know more about spousal options when it comes to Social Security benefits before you started to take them.

It seems that there was nothing else that you could have done to increase your own benefits several years ago besides waiting until full retirement age, or later, said Ken Van Leeuwen, a certified financial planner with Van Leeuwen & Company in Princeton.

He said the IRS changed the rules around spousal benefits in 2015, and it’s caused a lot of confusion for retirees.

In terms of what you can do now, with your husband as the “big breadwinner,” you may have one option.

“You may get a higher benefit amount filing for spousal benefits on his employment record now that he is at the minimum retirement age,” he said.

You should contact Social Security directly so it can advise you about benefits based on your personal records.

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This story was originally published on June 25, 2021. 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.