6 Social Security myths that could make or break your retirement planning

Personal Finance

Your marital status should play a big role in when you decide to take benefits.

If you are married, starting benefits earlier will also reduce the potential spousal or survivor benefits your husband or wife will receive.

Delaying claiming benefits until age 70 could result in as much as a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in benefits for surviving spouses, according to Jones. Meanwhile, the average length of widowhood is 11 years, he said.

“It’s much more likely that one spouse is going to live for a substantial amount of time without the other,” Jones said.

If you were born before Jan. 2, 1954, and are full retirement age, you can take a spousal benefit and allow your own benefits to grow. Then you can switch off to your own, larger benefit later.

Those who were born after that date, however, no longer have the ability to employ that strategy, because of changes to Social Security rules made by Congress.

Divorced spouses may still be able to collect benefits on their ex’s work record, provided they were married for at least 10 years and are at least 62 years old. But if you remarry, you will no longer be eligible for those benefits.

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