Please read Charlene’s story. It’s another great reminder why you should never give up fighting to Get What’s Yours from Social Security!
Hi! I’m In the midst of reading your book and I’m a bit confused. I am a single 63 year old female (I turn 64 in October) and I was married from Feb 1974 – Jan 1989. My understanding from your book is that because I was past 62 on January 2, 2016, I am “Grandfathered” to be able to get spousal benefits at my full retirement age (66) and then convert to my own record at 70. But then I read about “deeming” and it seemed like I fell into that as well. Do I? I do have an appointment with SS on 8/1/16 but I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize me maxing my SS at 70. If I do still qualify to get spousal benefits before my own, should I wait until I’m 66 or, in the abundance of caution in case SS revises the rules again, should I go ahead and apply for spousal benefits, albeit it will be a smaller amount? Another wrinkle to my case – as I was getting divorced, it was determined that my husband’s previous divorce was not final when we got married, so instead of a divorce, I got an annulment (CA doesn’t recognize common law marriage). In that an “annulment” voids the marriage, will SS still honor the 16 years I was “married”? Thanks for all of your assistance!! And, thank you so much for writing the book – it is terrific!
You should be in the clear on being able to file for an ex-spousal benefit without triggering your own retirement benefit. But I’d make it clear when you contact Social Security that you want to file only for your ex-spousal benefit and do not want to trigger filing for your own retirement benefit at the same time. Make sure the representative understands this. If not, ask to speak with a supervisor, or end the conversation and try another representative.
As to the timing of your filing, I certainly understand your hesitance about waiting. If you do file before full retirement age and have other wage income, your benefits might be reduced by Social Security’s earnings test. Normally, these reductions would be temporary and would be restored to you in the form of higher benefits once you’ve reached FRA.
However, the restoration may only apply to your ex-spousal benefit. Because your own retirement benefit will be the larger of the two, and because Social Security will only pay you an amount roughly equal to that larger benefit, you might not get back all of your benefits lost due to the earnings test. The short answer is, if the earnings test would take a big bite out of your ex-spousal benefits, I’d wait until FRA to claim them.
As for the annulment issue, you have me stumped! I could bounce this question off of my contacts at Social Security but it would take them a long time to get back to me. So, you might want to pursue this on your own. However, if you run into a problem here, please do get back in touch, and I will inquire for you.
Best of luck
Mr. Moeller – thank you so much for your prompt response! I’ve decided at my appointment with SS to just show the marriage license and “divorce” papers and let them determine whether it’s an issue. I’m using the appointment as an informational one and don’t plan on filing for any benefits. Thanks again! Have a great summer!
I want to give you an update regarding my question to you about receiving spousal benefits with an annulment of my 16 year marriage.
I went to the Social Security office in Los Angeles today with the certified copies of my marriage certificate and annulment and asked if I qualified for spousal benefits. At first the representative said “no” because the annulment voided the marriage. I asked her if the Marvin v. Marvin case (the one regarding palimony) would have any bearing on my eligibility. At that, she looked up “deemed marriage” and “deemed spouse” and read it to me and it fit my circumstances. In essence, if someone goes through a marriage ceremony in good faith that the marriage was valid and afterwards there is a legal impediment not the fault of the person, then social security considers it a “deemed marriage” and benefits are available. So when I turn 66, I can get spousal benefits until I turn 70, then switch to mine.
The representative said she had never had a case like mine!
I wanted to let you know in case you run into this question again and I also wanted to thank you so much again for your book and information. I’m now going to be able to retire at 66 instead of 70 and still be able to max out my social security!! I’m so excited!