Taking Social Security benefits early automatically reduces them. If you wait until full retirement age to collect your spousal benefits, you will receive a monthly check equal to 50 percent of your spouse’s full retirement benefits. The same applies if you are an eligible ex-spouse. In other words, your spousal benefits won’t be reduced no matter when your spouse takes his or her retirement benefits.
If you take your spousal benefits at sixty-two and your full retirement age is sixty-six, you will only receive about 35 percent of your spouse’s retirement benefits, not the full 50 percent you would have received had you waited until your full retirement age to collect spousal benefits. Again, your retirement benefits must be worth less than 50 percent of your spouse’s retirement benefits in order for you to qualify for spousal benefits.
The following chart shows your benefit reductions if you take spousal benefits before you reach full retirement age.