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Apply For Spousal Social Security Benefits

Social Security Benefits For Dependent Spouses

Social Security Spousal Benefits – MADE EASY to Understand

For spouses who have never worked or paid into Social Security taxes, spousal benefits represent the only source of retirement income. These spouses are eligible for spousal social security disability benefits.

you can explore your chance to receive benefits if the beneficiaries are at least 62 years of age and are either receiving or eligible to receive, retirement, or disability benefits.

Spouses may also be eligible to receive benefits if they have dependents. If a spouse cares for a child under the age of 16, the childs benefits continue until age 18, whereas the spouse benefits stop when the child reaches age 16.

This is always true unless the spouse becomes eligible for retirement or widower benefits. If the spouse is caring for a child who is disabled and collecting Social Security benefits, the spouse may receive dependents benefits even if the child is older than 16 or a legal adult.

Social Security Benefits To Increase 87% In 2023

The payouts will rise as the U.S. deals with increased inflation.

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 8.7% in 2023 as Americans deal with the highest inflation rates in decades.

The 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment will begin with benefits payable to more than 65 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2023. Increased payments to more than 7 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 30, 2022.

This is the biggest increase since 1981, because this number is based on the 40-year highs the U.S. has seen in inflation.

How Spousal Benefits Are Calculated

Spousal benefits are based on how much the other spouse would receive if that person began collecting benefits at the full or “normal” retirement age.

The Social Security Administration has an online calculator that can show you what percentage of your spouse’s benefits you will be eligible for depending on your own age when you start receiving benefits.

The short answer to the calculation is this: You’re eligible for half of your spouse’s benefit amount as long as you wait until your full retirement age to apply. The earlier you file, the less you’ll get.

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What Does It Take To Qualify For Social Security Spousal Benefits

Unlike most rules related to Social Security, the rules for the spousal benefit entitlement are pretty straightforward and easy to understand.

If youve been married to your current spouse for at least one year, youre eligible for a spousal benefit under their work record.

Pretty simple, right?

You may also qualify for the spousal benefit If youre divorced but the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and youre not currently married.

How The Restricted Application Strategy Works For Eligible Spouses

Spousal Social Security Benefits Calculator

If you reach full retirement age and are eligible for your own benefits as well as spousal benefits, you may choose to collect benefits under your spouse’s account now and defer your own benefits until later. To file a restricted application, both you and your spouse must be of full retirement age, and you both must have filed for Social Security benefits.

Filing a restricted application can result in a higher benefit amount when you later file for Social Security under your own account. The reason is you will have accrued delayed retirement credits for each year you deferred retirement, up to age 70, when benefits max out.

Each year of delayed retirement is worth an additional 8% in benefits for those born between 1943 and 1954. So, for example, a person born in 1952 who retires in 2021 at age 69 will receive an additional 24% over and above what they would have received had they started collecting in 2018 at their full retirement age. However, only one person per couple may collect spousal benefits while earning delayed retirement credits on his or her own account.

And, to repeat, this option is no longer available to anyone who wasn’t born on or before Jan. 1, 1954.

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Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that were putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.

Our reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most how to save for retirement, understanding the types of accounts, how to choose investments and more so you can feel confident when planning for your future.

Strategy For Late Claimers

If one partner has little or no earnings history, the best strategy is for the wage earner to postpone applying for Social Security retirement benefits until age 70 to get the highest amount possible. Full retirement age is 66 for most baby boomers and 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later, but by delaying claiming benefits until age 70, the wage-earner will accrue delayed retirement credits that will increase the monthly payments by 8% for each year of delay.

Keep in mind that this won’t affect the spousal benefit amount. Spousal benefits differ from personal benefits when it comes to delaying payments. If you delay claiming for personal retirement benefits past full retirement age, the benefit increases over time, as explained above. However, that will have no impact on your spouse’s benefits, since they max out at full retirement age . In other words, there is no benefit for your spouse in delaying the spousal benefit claim past your full retirement age.

On the other hand, if both partners work, and their earnings are more or less equal, their individual Social Security benefits will each be greater than the spousal benefit, so the best strategy for both is to postpone applying for benefits until age 70.

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More: Inflation Increased 04% In September

The Social Security Administration said average payouts will increase by more than $140 per month in 2023.

“Medicare premiums are going down and Social Security benefits are going up in 2023, which will give seniors more peace of mind and breathing room, acting SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said in a statement. “This years substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is the first time in over a decade that Medicare premiums are not rising and shows that we can provide more support to older Americans who count on the benefits they have earned.”

The SSA had increased the cost-of-living adjustment to 5.9% last year, making 8.7% a significant increase to an already-record high.

The maximum amount of earnings for the Social Security tax will also be going up — from $147,000 to $160,200.

Many around the country continue to deal with escalating prices on everything from rent to food and gas as inflation increases have yet to yield.

Documents You May Need To Provide

Social Security Spousal Benefits: The Complete Guide

We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
  • U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year.
  • Final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse and


We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate.

Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.

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Collecting Social Security Spousal Benefits

Spousal benefits are Social Security benefits that are based on your spouses work record instead of your own. In some circumstances, youre eligible for spousal benefits even if youve divorced.

Your Social Security retirement benefit is typically based on your 35 highest-earning years of work. But, if your spouse earned significantly more or your work history is limited, you may get more money from spousal benefits. Read on to learn when you qualify for spousal benefits and how Social Security calculates your payments.

What To Know About Social Security If You Are In Your 40s

If youre in your 40s, collecting Social Security might seem like the very last of your financial concerns since youre decades away from eligibility age. However, according to experts, there are good reasons to think ahead and plan in the ways that are in your control. Many people dont even know that you can track your Social Security statement online and get a sense of where youre at. Here we look at key information about Social Security that you need to know if youre in your 40s.

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Can I Collect Half Of My Spouse’s Social Security At 62

Not quite. The percentage of your spouse’s Social Security that you receive starts at 32.5% at age 62 and steps up gradually to 50% at your full retirement age, 66 or 67, depending on your year of birth. The amount is based on your spouse’s benefit at full retirement age.

The important point is this: Don’t bother delaying past your full retirement age. The amount you receive won’t grow beyond that age.

Calculating Social Security Benefits For Spouse

How To Claim Spouse Social Security Benefits

One of the main factors involved in determining a secondary beneficiaries social security benefits is retirement age. If a spouse waits until his or her full retirement, he or she may be eligible for a maximum spousal benefit. Full retirement age varies between 65 and 67 years of age, depending on ones year of birth.

For those born after 1960, the full retirement age is 67. Although some spouses choose to claim their spousal benefits as soon as possible, this can significantly reduce the maximum amount which you would otherwise be entitled to. The amount of the spousal benefits is reduced, as per the remaining months till full retirement age.

In other words, the percentage increases toward the maximum spousal benefit of 50% as full retirement age approaches.

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Social Security Expands Its Online Benefit Application To Include Spouse’s Benefits

  • The Social Security Administration has expanded its online Benefit Application, the online application that has allowed users to apply for Social Security Retirement benefits since November 2000, to include the ability to apply for Social Security Spouse’s benefits.
  • Effective April 2001, wives and husbands of individuals applying for retirement benefits may also apply for spouse’s benefits online.
      • Approximately 700,000 people apply for spouse’s benefits annually.
      • Approximately 47 percent of those who apply for spouse’s benefits are also eligible for a retirement benefit based on their own work. By using the Internet application process, these individuals will only need to complete and sign one application for both benefits.
  • The Internet application allows individuals to apply for their retirement and spouse’s benefits at their convenience.
    • Interested individuals can now apply for Social Security retirement and spouse’s benefits online at www.ssa.gov — Social Security Online — Social Security’s Internet site or
  • To use this service, people must be 61 years and nine months or older and plan to startreceiving benefits within four months. SSA advises people to file for benefits three months before they want their benefits to begin.
  • Applicants must meet certain criteria to apply for benefits using the online application:
    • Agree to receive their benefits by direct deposit.

Exceptions To Deemed Filing

Deemed filing applies to retirement benefits, not survivors benefits. If you are a widow or widower, you may start your survivor benefit independently of your retirement benefit.

Deemed filing also does not apply if you receive spouse’s benefits and are entitled to disability, or if you are receiving spousal benefits because you are caring for the retired workers child.

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Your Social Security Earnings Are Based On Your Top 35 Years Of Earnings

Social Security benefits are based on the number of years you have worked, your annual earning and the date you start receiving benefits, said Steve Sexton, CEO of the Sexton Advisory Group. Your main focus should be to maximize those Social Security payments in retirement.

Your Social Security earnings are index-adjusted based on your top 35 years of earnings, Sexton explained. If you work for more than 35 years, the additional years will replace smaller earnings years, increasing your Social Security benefit.

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The Two Exceptions To Know Around The 1 Year Marriage Requirement

Social Security Spousal Benefits (Case of Bob and Jane)

Normally, you must be married for at least 12 continuous months to meet the spousal benefit duration-of-marriage requirement. However, there are two exceptions to this rule.

Exception 1

If you marry someone who is the natural mother or father of your child, the one year requirement is waived.

Be the natural mother or father of the workers biological son or daughter i.e., this requirement is met if a live child was born to the number-holder and claimant although the child need not be alive.

Exception 2

The 1-year requirement is also waived if you were entitled to Social Security benefits on someone elses work record in the month before you were married.

An example of these benefits would be spousal benefits, survivor benefits or parents benefits.

For example, lets assume you will be eligible for a spousal benefit from your ex-husband Joe. If you remarry, you wouldnt have to wait the full 12 months to get a spousal benefit from your new spouse. Instead, youd be immediately eligible.

This topic is closely related to the Social Security Survivor Benefit. Ive written an in-depth but easy-to-understand article titled Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide to Who Gets What and How to Calculate It if you want to learn more.

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You Can’t Earn Delayed Retirement Credits Even Though Your Spouse Can

A primary earner claiming benefits on their own work history can actually increase the amount of money they get above and beyond their standard benefit amount.

They can do this by waiting beyond their full retirement age and earning delayed retirement credits. Credits are available until 70, and increase a standard benefit by 2/3 of 1% per month, or up to 8% for each full year of delay.

While it often pays off for a primary earner to wait to get this extra money, retirees claiming spousal benefits can’t increase their checks using this approach. Delayed retirement credits aren’t available for spousal benefits, which can’t go above 50% of the primary earner’s standard benefit.

Since you get no bonus for waiting, there’s no benefit to delaying the start of spousal benefits beyond your full retirement age. You still might have to wait, though, if your spouse hasn’t yet unlocked eligibility by claiming their own checks.

Knowing all three of these rules is vital to making an informed choice about when you want your spousal benefits to begin, so make sure you understand their implications and work with your partner to make decisions about Social Security that make the most sense for both of you.

How Much Will My Spouse Receive

If your spouse qualifies for benefits on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

If they begin receiving benefits:

If your spouse will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security such as government employment, the amount of their Social Security benefits on your record may be reduced.

at any age

Benefits paid to your spouse will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

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If You Are The Survivor

Just as you plan for your family’s protection if you die, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.

How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits

A worker can earn up to four credits each year. In 2022, for example, your spouse can earn one credit for each $1,510 of wages or self-employment income. When your spouse has earned $6,040 they have earned their four credits for the year.

The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when they die. No one needs more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. But, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive survivors benefits.

Some survivors can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work in the three years just before their death. Each persons situation is different and you need to talk to one of our claims representatives about your choices.

When A Family Member Dies

How To Apply For Social Security Spousal Benefits Online

We should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 . You can speak to one of our representatives between 8:00 am 7:00 pm. Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office.

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