But for older couples, the decision to marry can have a big impact on your retirement finances, particularly when it comes to Social Security. Census, nearly three million people age 50 and older live together, up from 1.2 million in 2000. How long must we be married for her to be eligible for spousal benefits based on my earnings? – Mark Sander, Indianapolis, IN A: It’s wonderful to find love at any age.
There are a number of calculators and advice services that can help you figure the claiming strategy that’s best for your situation.
Earlier this year, 401(k) advice provider Financial Engines released a Social Security income calculator that’s free and easy to use.
Some experts say that may be one reason why co-habitation among older people is on the rise. “Many seniors live together instead of getting married because of money issues,” says Steve Vernon, author of Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.
The good news is that if you do tie the knot, you only need to be married for one year for your wife to collect Social Security spousal benefits.
Also be aware that if either of you has been married before, remarrying could mean losing alimony or the survivor benefits of a pension.
“You really need to think strategically about how to maximize your Social Security benefits,” says Vernon.