How to switch from spouse’s pension to retirement pension online

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David: I am one of the lucky ones who were grandfathered under the old Social Security claims rules and was able to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits on my wife’s earnings when I turned 66, which allowed my own pension benefit to continue to grow. As I approach my 70th birthday, I want to start collecting my own bigger benefit, but I can’t find any information on how to do it. Is there a way to apply for my allowance online or should I call social security?

MBF: One of the good things about the pandemic is that the Social Security Administration has made it easier to do business online and over the phone. In the past, you had to go in person to your local SSA office to switch from spousal benefits to your own maximum retirement benefits. But that’s impossible these days, as the Social Security Administration suspended face-to-face meetings in field offices in March 2020 due to the pandemic and moved a large chunk of its workforce to process claims. information by phone.

“If someone is already collecting spousal benefits and later decides to apply for retirement benefits on their own record, he or she can apply for those benefits online,” Social Security spokesperson Darren Lutz confirmed. , in an email.

Go to www.ssa.gov. On the main page, click on “online services” and then select “apply for retirement benefits”. Since you are currently collecting benefits on your spouse’s file, you should be able to start a new pension benefit claim under your own Social Security number.

In the “remarks” box at the end of the application, you can explain that you are currently receiving spousal benefits and that you want to switch to your own maximum pension benefits as of the month you turn 70.

“We encourage people to use our online services to claim benefits, but that’s not the only way to file a claim,” Lutz wrote. “If people cannot conduct their social security business online, they should check our online field office locator (https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp) based on their code postal. “

Mary Beth Franklin, Certified Financial Planner, is Editor-in-Chief for InvestmentNews.

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