September 27, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Ask Rusty – Spousal Benefits Lost

Dear Rusty,
I took my Social Security at 62 since I had to stop working to care for my mom when I was 57.  I was widowed at the time but remarried when I was 58 1/2 years old.  I collected on my own work record, which was low.  Why didn’t I get half of my present husband’s benefit when he started benefits at his full retirement age?   I am 70 now.  Will I get his full Social Security if he dies before me?
Signed,
Missing Benefits
Dear Missing,
Yours is an issue which we unfortunately see occasionally with folks who have been collecting their own benefits for a long time and later become entitled to more than they have been receiving.  This situation arises with couples where the lower-earning spouse filed for Social Security before their higher-earning spouse applied. The lower-earning spouse (spouse#1) got benefits based upon their own work record only and received no spousal benefit because the higher-earning spouse (spouse#2) had not yet filed.  Later on, when spouse#2 finally filed for benefits, spouse#1 became eligible for a “spousal boost” (if their spousal benefit was more than their own), but it did not happen automatically; that “spousal boost” had to be applied for when spouse #2 started benefits.  Unfortunately many people didn’t realize this, assuming that the benefit they received when they first filed is what they get for the rest of their life.  They might also have assumed that Social Security automatically made the spousal adjustment for them, which wasn’t the case.  As a result, we find that some spouses have lost thousands of dollars in benefits, simply because they did not know they had to actually apply for spousal benefits when they became eligible for them.  A similar situation might exist where someone who was single and already receiving benefits marries a higher-earning person already collecting Social Security benefits.  Again in this case, spousal benefits must have been applied for to be received.  Note that since the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was enacted, everyone applying for Social Security is “deemed filing” for both their own and spousal benefits, but that doesn’t mitigate this particular issue because both spouses applied for benefits prior to the new rules becoming effective.
In your specific case, you became eligible for your additional spousal benefit as soon as your present husband’s benefits began.  Assuming your husband is about the same age as you, if ½ of your husband’s benefit at his full retirement age of 66 was more than your own benefit, this means that you have gone for about 4 years without receiving the added spousal benefits you are entitled to.   So, the first thing you should do is to contact Social Security as soon as possible and apply for your spousal benefits (or do it online at ssa.gov).  When you do this, be sure to make the effective date of those benefits 6 months prior to the date you file, because Social Security will pay you up to 6 months of retroactive benefits.  Unfortunately, the remaining 3 ½ years of the benefits you were entitled to but didn’t claim may be lost.  There is at least some chance, if your husband listed you as a spouse when he applied, that Social Security might give you more than six months retroactive, so you should make an appointment and explain what happened to see if anything more can be recovered.
As to your second question, yes, upon your husband’s death you will receive 100% of the benefit he was receiving, instead of the benefit you are already receiving.
Signed,
Rusty
in Opinion
Related Posts

Assemblyman Richard Bloom Endorses Erin Darling for LA City Council!

September 20, 2022

September 20, 2022

Former Santa Monica Mayor joins long list of elected officials backing the Venice local By Nick Antonicello Richard Bloom, the...

SMa.r.t. Column: Gelson’s – Compliant? Or Not!

September 17, 2022

September 17, 2022

The poster child for over-development known as The Gelson’s project, located at Lincoln & Ocean Park Blvd’s has had its...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Big Reset

September 14, 2022

September 14, 2022

Part 2 of 2 articles Last column we considered the illusions that keep us from facing the real dangers of...

Column: “Justice Does Matter”

September 7, 2022

September 7, 2022

Judicial candidate Patrick Hare seeks “collaborative versus adversarial” court system for LA County! By Nick Antonicello LA Public Defender Patrick...

Column: Time to Crack Down on Vacant Homes’ Owners

August 12, 2022

August 12, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist ​​There is no doubt California has a housing shortage. That’s fact even in the wake of...

OpED: Santa Monica Police Officers Association on Downtown Presence

August 12, 2022

August 12, 2022

By The Santa Monica Police Officers Association Recently, there has been increased public dialogue around the topic of crime and...

Review: A Santa Monica Restaurant’s New Happy Hour is Top-Notch

August 10, 2022

August 10, 2022

By Dolores Quintana Birdie G’s in Santa Monica has a new Happy Hour and it is something special. For one...

SMa.r.t. Column: Ode to the Future of My City

August 8, 2022

August 8, 2022

How sad it is to journey to Santa Monica and I can’t find it.The open blue sky hides behind canyon...

SMa.r.t. Column: Why Native Gardens?

July 22, 2022

July 22, 2022

Voltaire said it best at the end of his 1759 novel  Candide: “We must cultivate our own garden”. This simple...

SMa.r.t. Column: We’re All Wet – Not!

July 15, 2022

July 15, 2022

Don’t you think that if you heard, or read, statements from controlling government agencies that said you were threatened by...

Affordability Answer: A New Tax on Housing Speculators?

July 8, 2022

July 8, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist The TV commercials and online ads are fast becoming ubiquitous: “We’ll buy your house as is,”...

SMar.t. Column: Has the Promenade Turned a Corner?

July 8, 2022

July 8, 2022

In large complex systems with dynamically balanced forces, it’s paradoxically often hard to tell when something has actually happened, For...

Column: Groundwater Law Has Not Stopped Subsidence

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

By Tom Elias Drive almost any road in the vast San Joaquin Valley and you’ll see irrigation pipes standing up...