By withdrawing them now, you can collect a full spousal benefit starting at 66 and then wait until 70 to start collecting your own retirement benefit.

Shirley — San Jose, Calif.: I am 62 and my husband is 63.

If your wife can delay her own pension and have it grow while she delays it, she can then take her Social Security benefits (spousal and retirement), without getting zapped, until she starts her state pension.

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This is one of Social Security’s miserable gotchas: You take your own retirement benefit and expect to get a spousal benefit, but it doesn’t happen.

Furthermore, as soon as you file for your retirement benefit, you’ll be forced to take your spousal benefit (assuming your spouse is at least 62).

If you get divorced after 10 years, you’ll qualify for both.

As I’ve pointed out in the past (see the answer to Nicholas’ question last week), the system provides a better deal to divorcées who have stuck it out in their marriage for 10 years or more.

Larry Kotlikoff’s Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature “Ask Larry” every Monday.

We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first.

And you can’t opt to collect only your spousal benefit until you reach full retirement age.

So if he files and suspends at 66 (his full retirement age), and you apply for a spousal benefit at 65, you’ll also be forced to take your retirement benefit due to Social Security’s “deeming” provision.

So, by having him file and suspend as soon as he can so that you can seize the opportunity to collect your spousal benefit immediately, you will disadvantage yourself terribly. Instead, let’s have you wait until 66 to collect just your full spousal benefit and then hold off until 70 to collect your own retirement benefit.

, when you are 65, you can file for your retirement benefit and permit your husband to collect his full spousal benefit off of your earnings record.

The reduction equals two-thirds of her state pension.