Senior couple laughing together while budgeting © iStock

Dear Senior Living Adviser,
I will be 62 soon and want to sign up for Social Security retirement benefits. I didn’t rack up a lot of wage history on my own, but my husband has made quite a bit of money. He is 1 year younger than me.

Should I file on his account, or take what I can get on my own account and switch to spousal benefits when he starts to receive his benefits?
— Vicki Vexation

Dear Vicki,
A current spouse can’t get a spousal benefit until the worker files for retirement benefits. Since he’s a year younger than you, it means you’d have to wait at least until he turns 62 and files for benefits before you could file for a spousal benefit. However, his filing for reduced benefits at age 62 is unlikely to make sense because his benefits would be permanently reduced.

If he filed early and continued to work, Social Security would deduct $1 in his monthly benefits for every $2 in benefits he earned above the annual limit. In 2015, that annual limit is $15,720. The limit is adjusted every year.

Your benefits at age 62 would be based solely on your work record. You can open a mySocialSecurity online account to get an estimate of what those benefits would be at age 62. Those benefits would be permanently reduced by taking them before your full retirement age of 66.

Taking benefits early on your work record also will reduce the size of your spousal benefit when you are able to file for one. I’d suggest working with a consultant, like Social Security Solutions, to determine an optimal claiming strategy for you and your husband’s Social Security benefits.

It’s unlikely that you claiming benefits at age 62 is the way to go. It’s far more likely that you should wait until your full retirement age to claim benefits.

Ask the adviser

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page and select one of these topics: “Senior Living,” “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.” Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.

Bankrate’s content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this website is governed by Bankrate’s Terms of Use.