In a married couple, the Social Security benefits are rarely equal. That is, one spouse’s benefit will typically be higher than the other. When the lower earning spouse's benefit is less than 50% of the higher earning spouse's benefit, the lower earning spouse may receive 50% of the higher earning spouse's benefit or their own benefit, whichever is higher. Keep in mind that the higher earning spouse must claim their own benefit before the spousal benefit is available.

The Planner will automatically apply the spousal benefit when it is advantageous and the higher earner has claimed their own benefit.

To model this strategy, you do not need to make any adjustments. Simply enter the lower earning spouse's benefit at Full Retirement Age as reported by the SSA and the Planner will calculate and apply the appropriate amount.

You can view the combined benefits on your Lifetime Income Projection Chart by hovering over the Social Security benefits after both spouse's claiming ages. You can also view the combined benefits on your Estimated Income, Drawdowns, and Debt Chart. You may want to change the Social Security COLA to 0% and view the amounts without inflation.

Please note that this modeling is not currently available in our Social Security Explorer.

If you plan to use the "claim and switch" strategy, please refer to this article: Claiming an individual Social Security benefit and switching to a spousal benefit in My Plan.

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