Q: Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that affect me?
A: It depends on your age. If you are full retirement age or older when you first apply, and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can choose to apply and receive benefits on just your spouse’s Social Security record. This way, you could delay applying for benefits on your own record in order to receive delayed retirement credits. If you are full retirement age or older, and have already applied for retirement benefits, you can request to have payments suspended. If you qualify for a spouse’s benefit, you can receive those payments and earn delayed retirement credits on your own record. By applying only for benefits as a spouse, you may receive a higher retirement benefit on your own record later based on the effect of delayed retirement credits. You can earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70 as long as you do not collect your own benefits. Since the rules vary depending on the situation, you may want to talk to a Social Security representative about the options available. Go online for information at www.socialsecurity.gov or call 800-772-1213.
Q: My daughter works for a nonprofit charity and is helping victims of natural disasters. Does she have to pay Social Security tax with her salary?
A: Yes, people who work for nonprofits and who receive a salary must pay Social Security tax like everyone else. It is commendable that she is helping people in need. Those wages and the Social Security tax she pays on them will offer her financial relief in the future, when it comes time to apply for Social Security. So in essence, she is helping herself, too. For more information, go online to the publication “How You Earn Credits” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.