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Published: Sun, July 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

Q. If I choose to retire and receive reduced benefits at age 62, will my monthly benefit increase to a full retirement benefit when I become 65 or will it stay the same?
A. If you start your retirement benefits at age 62 (the earliest possible retirement age), your benefits are reduced permanently.
The age at which you can receive full retirement benefits is rising gradually from age 65 to 67. For more information, visit www.ssa.g
ov or call (800) 772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office.
Q. I'm hiring a woman to do housework. Do I need to pay Social Security taxes on what I pay her?
A. If you pay her $1,300 or more in cash wages during a year, you must deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes from her salary and report her wages once a year with your tax return. There are special rules for some situations. For more information, visit www.ssa.gov or call (800) 772-1213 and ask for the fact sheet, "Household Workers," Social Security Publication No. 05-10021.
Q. My wife doesn't have enough work to qualify for Social Security or Medicare. Can she get benefits based on the Social Security taxes that I paid while I worked?
A. Yes. Even if your wife never worked under Social Security, when she reaches full retirement age, she can receive a benefit equal to one-half of your full retirement amount. She will also qualify for Medicare at that time.
Your wife can begin receiving benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on her age.
Q. If a husband and wife both work and retire at their full retirement age, does each receive their full benefit amount?
A. Yes. Social Security imposes no "marriage penalty" when both members of a couple are entitled on their own earnings record. And if either could receive a higher benefit on the other's earning record rather than their own, he or she could elect to do so.

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