Who Qualifies For Social Security Spousal Benefits
If your spouse has filed for Social Security benefits, you can also collect benefits based on the spouse’s work record, if:
- You are at least 62 years old.
- Regardless of your age, if you care for a child who is entitled to receive benefits on your spouseâs record, and who is under age 16 or disabled.
When you apply for spousal benefits, you will also be applying for benefits based on your own work history. If you’re eligible for benefits based on your own earnings, and that benefit amount is higher than your spousal benefit, that’s what you’ll get. If it is lower, you’ll get the spousal benefit.
Delay Claiming Social Security Benefits
The simplest way to increase your monthly payments is to delay claiming Social Security benefits. The Social Security Agency allows all Americans to start benefits at the early retirement age of 62, but doing so can reduce your monthly payment paycheck.
If you choose to begin receiving Social Security early, for each month there is between when you start and your full retirement age you lose about half a percentage point of the total value you would have earned if youâd waited.
You could miss out on up to 30% of the monthly payment youâd be entitled to at your full retirement age by starting early. If you would receive a monthly benefit of $1,500 at your full retirement age of 67, for instance, starting benefits early at age 62 would reduce that amount to $1,050.
Waiting to start Social Security benefits until after your full retirement age can boost your monthly benefit. According to Eric D. Brotman, CEO of BFG Financial Advisors, there is an 8% annual increase in benefits due for each year you wait from full retirement age through 70.
That means the $1,500 benefit at age 67 could increase by 24% to $1,860 per month if you wait until 70âthatâs the age at which you must begin payments. Just donât wait until after age 70 to start payments.
Claiming Early Or Late
Your spousal benefit is based upon your partner’s “normal” benefit amount. But the amount you receive will depend upon when you begin to claim it.
You can claim spousal benefits as early as age 62, but you won’t receive as much as if you wait until your own full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you choose to claim spousal benefits at 62, you’d receive a benefit that’s equal to 32.5% of your spouse’s full benefit amount.
The amount increases with each year you delay. At your full retirement age you’d be eligible for the maximum, which is 50% of your spouse’s full benefit.
Notably, spousal benefits are not reduced if the spouse is caring for a child who qualifies under the age or disability rules. Spousal benefits can never exceed 50% of the other spouseâs full benefit. So, there is no incentive to file for spousal benefits later than your own full retirement age.
An ex-spouse may be eligible for spousal benefits even if the former spouse hasn’t retired yet.
Recommended Reading: Southwest Foodservice Excellence Employee Benefits
Follow These Steps To Get Started:
Thats it! So create or sign in to your mySocial Security account and start planning for your future today!
Already have a mySocial Security Account?
Sign in to your account and scroll down to the Plan for Retirement section to start planning for your future.
Can I Still Receive Spousal Benefits If I Worked
What happens if you have Social Security earnings of your own but you also qualify for a spousal benefit? You can actually apply for both at the same timesomething the SSA calls a deemed filing. Youll then receive the higher of the two amounts.
Suppose youre at full retirement age and qualify for a $1,800 monthly benefit based on your pre-retirement wages. If you also qualify for a $1,000 spousal benefit, youd receive the $1,800 benefit amount since thats higher.
Your own retirement benefits will continue to grow the longer you delay your claim, up to age 70. If you wait until 70 to start collecting Social Security income, you can accrue enough delayed retirement credits to increase your benefit up to 32% versus claiming at full retirement age. It used to be fairly common for retirees to take advantage of this featureclaiming spousal benefits while delaying their own retirement benefit so it continues to grow. They would then switch from the spousal benefit to their own retirement benefit after maxing out the latter.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 clamped down on this strategy, however. Those who turned 62 on or after January 2, 2016, and were eligible for both benefits were thereafter required to complete a deemed filing. While theres still an incentive to hold off and let your delayed retirement credits grow, you can no longer stagger your application for each benefit.
Recommended Reading: The Government Wants To Make Medicare Benefits Available
The Bottom Line On Spousal Benefits
Spousal benefits can boost your Social Security if your spouse earns significantly more than you. However, if youre employed for most of your working years, you may still qualify for a bigger benefit on your own. If youre wondering how much youd qualify for on your own record or your spouses, you can create a my Social Security account to estimate your benefits and kickstart your retirement planning.
Can I Receive Social Security Benefits From My Ex
Because the spousal benefit is intended to compensate spouses who perform the critical tasks of raising the family and maintaining the family home, spouses who undertook this work during their marriage may wonder whether they can receive Social Security spousal benefits from a former spouse following their divorce. In short, a person can receive Social Security spousal benefits from an ex-spouse, including if your ex-spouse has died.
You May Like: What Are Social Security Benefits Based On
Who Is Entitled To Survivors Benefits From Social Security
How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies SSA.gov/benefits/survivors
Social Security is a key source of financial security to widowed spouses. About 7.8 million individuals aged 60 and older receive Social Security benefits based, at least in part, on a deceased spouses work record. These surviving spouse beneficiaries are overwhelmingly women.
These beneficiaries include 3.6 million people who are eligible only as widowed spouses. Another 4.2 million who are entitled to benefits based on their own work records but whose deceased spouses benefit amounts were higher than their own, will receive higher benefits as individuals .
Social Security Survivor Benefits
When your spouse dies, you may be eligible for survivor benefits. You may also be eligible for your ex-spouses survivor benefits if you were married for at least 10 years or you care for their child whos younger than 16 or disabled.
Survivor benefits are as much as 100% of the benefit the deceased worker was receiving when they died. If the person died before claiming benefits, the survivor benefit is based on their primary insurance amount.
To qualify for the full benefit, you still have to wait until your full retirement age. However, you can claim benefits as early as age 60 . If you claimed survivor benefits as soon as youre eligible at age 60, youd only receive 71.5% of your late spouses benefit. Surviving spouses or ex-spouses who are caring for a child younger than 16 or who has a disability can receive 75% of the deceased workers benefit.
If you remarry before age 60 , you wont qualify for survivor benefits. However, if you remarry after age 60 , remarrying wont jeopardize your survivor benefits.
Don’t Miss: State Of Illinois Retirement Benefits
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.
How Long Can I File For Spousal Benefits After Divorce
If you have been divorced for at least two years, you can apply if the marriage lasted 10 or more years. Starting benefits early may lead to a reduction in payments. If you have a work history, youll receive either your benefit or the spousal benefit, whichever is greater. To be eligible, your working spouse will need to have already claimed
You May Like: How To Figure Social Security Retirement Benefits
Spousal Social Security Rules
For many working couples, both partners will be eligible to collect individual benefits. However, that does not preclude either person from collecting under the other person’s account. When you apply for benefits, both accounts will be checked to determine which claim will result in a higher benefit amount.
If your own benefit is larger, you will automatically receive that amount. If your spousal benefit is larger, you will receive a combination of benefits that total that amount.
While you can apply for spousal benefits as early as age 62, your benefit will be permanently reduced from what you would receive at your full or “normal” retirement age. Full retirement age, for Social Security purposes, is between 66 and 67, depending on your year of birth.
One exception: If you are caring for your spouse’s child who is under age 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits, you can collect spousal benefits at any age without a reduction.
In addition, if you decide to claim before full retirement age, your benefit amount may be reduced if you continue working, depending on how much you earn. Eligibility for government, foreign, or public service pensions may also affect your payments.
If you wait until full retirement age to claim benefits, you’ll receive the maximum amount you can collect as a spouse. That is equal to 50% of your spouse’s benefit amount.
The benefits claiming strategy known as “file and suspend” has been totally eliminated.
If You’re Receiving Other Retirement Benefits
The calculation gets a bit more complicated if you are eligible to receive benefits from a government pension or foreign employer that is not covered by Social Security. In that case, you may still be eligible, but the amount will be reduced.
For example, if you have a government pension for which Social Security taxes are not withheld, the amount of your spousal benefit is reduced by two-thirds of the amount of your pension. This is known as a government pension offset.
For example, suppose you are eligible to receive $800 in Social Security spousal benefits and you also get $300 from a government pension each month. Your Social Security payment is reduced by two-thirds of $300, or $200, making your total benefit amount from all sources $900 per month + $300).
Recommended Reading: What Are Typical Employee Benefits
How Much Will Your Divorced Spouse Receive
If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years.
If your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement 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.
How Much Should You Expect To Get From Spousal Benefits
Spousal benefits are capped at half your spouses benefit at full retirement age. If waits beyond that to claim, the spousal benefit cannot grow further, says Claire Toth, managing principal and senior wealth strategist at New Jersey-based Peapack-Gladstone Bank.
Toth is referring to the strategy of a retiree not claiming benefits until past full retirement age in order to claim a bigger monthly benefit. Social Security will boost your benefit substantially if you delay filing until as late as age 70. Its one way to juice your payout without working more.
However, if you file before full retirement age, your spouse will likely receive a permanently reduced benefit. Benefits may be reduced so that the spouse receives as little as 32.5 percent of the retirees benefit. The spousal benefit is reduced by about seven-tenths of 1 percent for each month before full retirement age, up to 36 months. If you exceed the 36 months, Social Security will dock about four-tenths of 1 percent for further months. The math can be complicated, but Social Security provides a tool to help you calculate your spousal benefit.
The exception to this rule of filing early is if a spouse is caring for a child under age 16 or one who is disabled, in which case the benefit is not reduced. In fact, this spouse could claim the spousal benefit at any age if theyre caring for a child who also receives benefits.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Benefit Of Medicare Advantage
Applying For Spousal Benefits
You can apply for spousal benefits online at the Social Security Administration website, over the phone, or by making an appointment at your local Social Security office. The SSA website also has links to information about the maximum amount you can earn while collecting benefits and an online calculator to help estimate your potential spousal benefit.
Ask Rusty When Will My Wife Be Eligible For Full Survivor Benefits
Dear Rusty: I heard my spouse will get 100% of my Social Security when I pass if she is at her full retirement age , which is 66 years and 8 months. But I also heard that full widow benefits for those born in 1958 are available at 66 years and 4 months. Which is correct?
Then I heard that her getting 100% of my social security is NOT the case because I started social security at 70. I heard this is because widow benefits are based on my benefit at my full retirement age. So, will my wife get 100% of my Social Security if she starts it at her FRA, or will she get my smaller FRA amount?
My wife is now getting spousal benefits and I also heard that for those getting spousal benefits, Social Security automatically changes that to widow benefits when the other spouse passes. If I die before my wife reaches her FRA, can she tell Social Security to NOT give her widow benefits at that time? Can she wait until she is at her FRA and then start widow benefits to get 100% of mine? Signed: Concerned Husband
Dear Concerned: Ill be happy to clear all this up for you. There are two full retirement age numbers which will be in effect for your wife if you pass first 1) her normal full retirement age , and 2) her widows full retirement age.
Read Also: How To Renew Medicare Benefits
Do I Qualify For Spousal Benefits From Social Security If Im Divorced
Being divorced doesnt necessarily mean you lose spousal support from Social Security. To make a claim, your former spouse has to be eligible for benefits and your marriage needs to have lasted 10 years or longer. In addition, you have to be unmarried to receive the spousal benefit. Its important to note that the marital status of the insured individual doesnt factor into your eligibility.
In cases where your ex-spouse has not started to collect benefits but qualifies to do so, as long as youve been divorced for at least two consecutive years.
Spousal Benefits Of Social Security
Spousal Benefits of Social Security
There are many things we should know about Social Security. While the following is written from the perspective of a wife earning less than her spouse, the information here is the same for husbands who earn less than their spouse and may want to claim a spousal benefit.
Nothing keeps you from getting your own Social Security Benefit. If you worked for at least 10 years and earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you are vested in the Social Security System. Once you reach age 62, you will be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you are married or not.
If you are married and both you and your husband have worked, you will each be paid your own Social Security benefit. There is no marriage penalty or limit to benefits paid to a married couple. A working woman is not limited to one-half of her husbands Social Security.
Most women are potentially due two benefits: your own retirement benefit and wifes benefit on your husbands record, but not both. You are automatically entitled to receive whichever benefit provides you with a higher monthly amount. A wife is due between one-third and one-half of her husbands social security. Most working women who reach retirement benefit age get their own Social Security because it is more than one-third to one-half of the husbands rate.
Age To Receive Full Social Security Benefits
Recommended Reading: How Do I Calculate My Social Security Retirement Benefits