If you get divorced after 10 years, you’ll qualify for both.As I’ve pointed out in the past (see the answer to Nicholas’ question last week), the system provides a better deal to divorcées who have stuck it out in their marriage for 10 years or more.He has a pension that we are receiving now from his former employer.My employer is offering me a retirement package that would act as a bridge to age 65, so I can collect my pension now.Your total check if you do take your own retirement benefit early will be the sum of your reduced retirement benefit (reduced because you are taking it early) and your reduced excess spousal benefit, which is equal to half your spouse’s full retirement benefit less 100 percent of your full retirement benefit.
Richard — Stoneham, Mass.: I was recently informed by Social Security that my wife could not receive half my Social Security because she worked a state job for 24 years and therefore does not qualify because of the windfall act. Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, the Government Pension Offset provision will reduce, if not wipe out, the spousal and survivor benefits that would otherwise be available to your wife.
This is one of Social Security’s miserable gotchas: You take your own retirement benefit and expect to get a spousal benefit, but it doesn’t happen.
Furthermore, as soon as you file for your retirement benefit, you’ll be forced to take your spousal benefit (assuming your spouse is at least 62).
And you can’t opt to collect only your spousal benefit until you reach full retirement age.
So if he files and suspends at 66 (his full retirement age), and you apply for a spousal benefit at 65, you’ll also be forced to take your retirement benefit due to Social Security’s “deeming” provision.