Q:  I am not working and will be eligible for about $350 per month on my Social Security record when I turn age 62 later this year.  My husband is a couple of months older and hopes to work until his full retirement age at 66.  His monthly benefit would be about $2,600 at that time.  Should I apply for benefits on my own record now?  I don’t want to do anything that would negatively affect us long term when income could be crucial, or decrease any survivor’s benefit should my husband predecease me. 

A:  Since you aren’t working, there is little reason for you to defer filing for benefits on your own Social Security record if you wish to do so.  At age 62, your benefit would be reduced to 75 percent of your full benefit.  When your husband begins to receive benefits, you would be entitled to additional benefits as his wife.  This additional amount would be equal to the difference between your full retirement age benefit and half of your husband’s full retirement age benefit.

Should your husband predecease you, your early retirement would no longer affect the amount of your Social Security benefits.  If you have reached your full retirement age or are older when your husband dies, your widow’s benefit would be the full benefit your husband would have received if he were still alive.