Q. I delayed applying for my Social Security retirement until I was 68. My wife draws on the basis of my record, but she gets quite a bit less than 50% of my benefit. Apparently her payments are 50% of what I would have received if I had retired at 65. Is this the current policy? I am also penalized under Medicare Part B by paying 20 percent more per month in premiums than I would have paid had I applied for Medicare at 65 instead of 68, even though I was covered by my employer’s health insurance. This doesn’t seem right to me. Comments?
A. You should not be paying a Medicare Part B premium penalty if you had employer-provided health insurance from age 65 until you retired from the workforce. The law grants an exemption from the penalty for any month an over-age-65 worker is covered by his current employer’s health insurance plan or by his spouse’s current employer’s health insurance plan. If you are being erroneously penalized, obtain a statement from your former employer or from the former employer’s insurance company certifying that you were insured by your employer’s plan for months after age 65. Present that statement to your local Social Security office with a request for premium relief. Future premiums will be at the lower rate and all excess premiums paid to date will be refunded.
The benefit your wife is receiving is undoubtedly correct. Whether a wage earner retires early or late, a spouse benefit is based on the benefit payable at full retirement age. A widow benefits from delayed retirement credits even though a wife does not. If your wife is full retirement age or more before being widowed, her widow benefit would be the full benefit you would receive if still alive.
Since the repeal of the annual earnings limitation, a wage earner who plans to defer benefits in order to earn delayed retirement credits can apply for benefits at full retirement age (or as soon as his wife is old enough to receive benefits).
When the wife’s benefit is in place, the wage earner can request that his own benefit be withheld until age 70 or whenever he chooses to have his benefit begin. The wage earner earns delayed retirement credits for any month from full retirement age to the month age 70 is reached that a benefit is not paid.