Switching From Spousal Benefits To Survivor Benefits
If your spouse or ex-spouse is deceased, you might qualify forSocial Security survivor benefits. These benefits are also sometimes called widows benefits. If you are already receiving spousal benefits based on your spouses work record when they die, you can switch to survivor benefits. First, you should know that survivor benefits are higher than spousal benefitsroughly double in most cases. For those already receiving spousal benefits when their spouse dies, you should immediately notify the Social Security Administration of the death. This will allow you to switch to the higher benefit as soon as possible. The switchover will not occur automatically, and the switch is generally not retroactive. This means that the longer you wait, the more benefits you lose out on.
You should also know that you could qualify for survivor benefits even if your spouse dies well before retirement age. As long as your spouse accumulated enough work credits during their lifetime, then you can qualify for survivor benefits after their death. You can start receiving survivor benefits as early as age 60, although waiting until full retirement age will get you the highest benefit. If you start your benefits at age 60, you will only receive about 71% of the deceased workers benefit. In some cases, you can even start your survivor benefits if you are at least age 50. This applies to disabled people who qualify for survivor benefits.
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.
Spousal Benefits Dont Grow By Deferment
With traditional Social Security benefits, the longer you wait to claim them, the higher your benefit amount will be up to age 70. But thats not the case with spousal benefits. Instead, theres no benefit to waiting beyond full retirement age to claim spousal benefits. Your benefit amount will not grow by waiting to take it beyond this point like it would for your own delayed retirement. So, make sure that once you reach your full retirement age, you begin claiming your spousal benefits as soon as possible.
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What If A Spouse Passes Away
Upon the death of the spouse, the widow or widower may be eligible for a Social Security survivor benefit, which is equal to the full benefit of the deceased spouse. The surviving spouse will keep whichever of the couples two Social Security payments is higher.
If the surviving spouse remarries at age 60 or older, he or she can still receive the survivor benefit. However, remarrying before age 60 eliminates eligibility to collect the deceased spouses benefit.
Can My Foreign Spouse Claim Social Security Survivor Benefits
Yes. If you pass away, your foreign spouse can claim Social Security survivor benefits. To be eligible, you and your spouse must have been married for at least nine months.
If your spouse is eligible for Social Security spousal benefits, they can begin claiming those benefits once they reach age 60.
Once your spouse has reached the minimum age, they can start claiming 70% of your Social Security benefit. If they wait until retirement age, they can claim the full payment.
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Divorcing You May Still Be Able To Get Their Benefits
If you were married for at least 10 years and youve been divorced for at least two years, you can claim your exs Social Security. The same spousal rules apply: Your maximum benefit will be 50% of their primary amount. Youll receive a lower amount if you claim early, and you wont earn delayed retirement credits for waiting past your full retirement age.
Your ex-spouse needs to be at least 62 for you to claim on their record. Your decision will have absolutely no effect on your ex-spouse. Likewise, if someone youve divorced takes Social Security on your record, your benefits wont be reduced.
If Your Spouse Claims Benefits Early Your Payout Will Suffer
The amount a beneficiary receives from Social Security depends on both their work record and when they file. Although full retirement age is now 67 for most workers, you can file a claim to start benefits as early as age 62. However, your benefits will be permanently slashed by 30%. In other words, if your full retirement benefit is $2,000 per month at age 67, by filing at age 62, that monthly amount will drop to just $1,400.
A spouses Social Security benefit is directly tied to the payout that the primary beneficiary receives. Thus, if your spouse files for benefits at age 62, your own spousal benefit will be permanently reduced as well. Rather than receiving 50% of your spouses full retirement age benefit of $2,000, or $1,000 per month, you would only receive $700, or 50% of your spouses reduced $1,400 payout.
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The Size Of The Workers Retirement Benefits
How much the retired worker qualifies for in Social Security retirement benefits at full retirement age sets the baseline for calculating spousal benefits.
Current and former spouses could receive up to 50% of their partners primary insurance amount, the amount a person would receive if they applied for Social Security at full retirement age
Understanding Social Security Spousal Benefits
Most American workers are aware that if they participate in the workforce and pay into the Social Security tax system, they are also eligible to draw benefits when they choose to retire if they meet certain age criteria. But a lesser known fact is that spouses who did not work outside the home throughout their lifetime also are eligible to receive a Social Security payment in the form of the spousal benefit.
These are partial retirement benefits granted to the spouses of qualifying taxpayers. If this is news to you, keep reading its important to understand all of your retirement income options, so weve outlined everything you need to know about claiming spousal benefits.
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Strategy For Divorced Spouses
If you have been divorced for at least two years, you can apply for spousal benefits if your marriage lasted 10 or more years. If, on the other hand, you are still married and considering a divorce, and are near retirement age, try to apply for spousal benefits before your divorce is final. If you have been married and divorced multiple times, you can choose to receive whichever spousal benefit is highest. Saving your ex-spousesâ Social Security numbers and dates of birth will make the enrollment process easier.
What Are Social Security Spousal Benefits
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Social Security spousal benefits provide a monthly sum to a retired workers spouse or former spouse. The spouse receives up to 50% of the value of the retired workers Social Security base retirement or disability benefit
If youre the retired worker in this equation, signing up your spouse for spousal benefits doesnt mean your retirement benefits are cut in half. Instead, your spouse receives a Social Security benefit on top of the retirement benefits you receive
Explaining Social Security spousal benefits involves making some assumptions. Spousal benefits are structured to be most advantageous in circumstances in which only one member of a married or divorced couple qualifies for Social Security retirement or disability benefits or one member qualifies for a significantly larger benefit than the other.
» Need a primer? See Social Security explained
Strategies For Maximizing Spousal Benefits
Every married couple has to figure out the best way to maximize their benefits depending on their own circumstances.
The three strategies below will help you make the most of your Social Security spousal benefits, depending on your circumstances. However, keep in mind that, regardless of your circumstances, the most a spouse can get is 50% of the amount that the higher-earning partner is entitled to at full retirement age.
Tips For Saving For Retirement
- All of the age thresholds and eligibility requirements and conditions for your Social Security benefits can be a bit overwhelming. If so, you may want to look at our Social Security calculator. You can fill in your information, and well do the rest.
- In any retirement conversation, its always important to be mindful of the retirement tax laws in the state you live in. Taking your states laws into account can make a significant difference as you plan for retirement.
- If you already have some money to spare, you could save even more by finding a financial advisor. A financial advisor can take a comprehensive look at your finances and determine where you can cut expenses and save more. To find the right advisor, you can use SmartAssets free financial advisor matching tool. You can answer a series of questions about your financial goals and situation. Then, the tool will match you with three qualified financial advisors in your area.
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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.
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 .
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Even If Youre Divorced You Might Be Entitled To Benefits
Even those who are aware that Social Security provides a spousal benefit may think that divorce terminates that option. In many cases, it does, but if you were married at least 10 years before you got divorced and you havent remarried, youre still entitled to the same Social Security spousal benefit as before. In other words, at full retirement age, even if youre divorced, you can claim a benefit worth 50% of your ex-spouses as long as you were married for at least 10 years and arent remarried. However, this benefit will be reduced if you claim before full retirement age, just as it is for any worker claiming a Social Security retirement benefit.
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Social Security Spousal Benefits Explained
- Social Security spousal benefits can pay an eligible spouse 50% of the partners benefit if it is higher than his or her own benefit. Claims can begin at age 62 but may be worth more at full retirement age. Read our Social Security review to learn more.
Social security is complicated for individual filers, and being married can make it even more complicated. Thats because Social Security includes benefits for the spouse as well as the individual.
When an individual files for retirement benefits, that persons spouse may be eligible for a benefit based on the worker’s earnings according to the Social Security Administration.
In this Social Security review, we outline the rules for spousal benefits.
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‘file And Suspend’ Has Been Totally Eliminated
You may also hear or read about another Social Security claiming strategy known as file and suspend. Unfortunately, it is no longer applicable, also due to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Using this strategy, the higher-earning spouse could file for Social Security at full retirement age , but then “suspend” his or her claim and not take benefits until later, while racking up delayed retirement credits in the meantime.
What Did We Do
SSA and OES piloted opportunities to help the public make more informed decisions about claiming Social Security retirement benefits. In one pilot, OES worked with SSA to redesign the notice informing spousal benefit recipients that they might receive a higher benefit if they applied for retirement benefits on their own record. The redesigned notice simplified the language and emphasized the action steps that recipients needed to take. The Intervention Pack shows the original and redesigned letters, and describes the best practices adopted in the re-design for effective communications.
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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
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Divorced Know This Significant Exception To The Rule
When planning your Social Security filing strategy, its important to note that you cannot file for a spousal benefit until the higher earning spouse files for their benefit.
But this does not apply if your are filing for a spousal benefit from an ex-spouse.
If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits you can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years and your ex-spouse is at least 62.
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Find Your Social Security Full Retirement Age
You can claim your Social Security benefits a few years before or after your full retirement age, and your monthly benefit amount will vary as a result. But first you have to know what it is.
Also known as normal retirement age, your Social Security Full Retirement age is the age at which youre entitled to 100% of the Social Security benefits youve earned. FRA is 66 for beneficiaries born between 1943 and 1954 it gradually increases to 67 for beneficiaries born in 1960 or later. If you take benefits before FRA, your benefits will be reduced. If you file at age 62, for example, benefits will be as much as 30% lower. More on that in a moment.
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How Do I Apply For Spousal Social Security Benefits
You can apply when your insured spouse files for Social Security or at any time after theyve started to receive monthly payments. Going online and filling out theis the easiest way for most applicants. When you and your spouse apply online at the same time, the SSA automatically checks your eligibility for spousal benefits.
When applying online, you may be asked for certain documents, including but not limited to:
- Your birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
- A copy of your U.S. military service papers
- A copy of any W-2 forms or a self-employment tax return for the prior year
or call 772-1213.
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Beware The Social Security Earnings Test
Bringing in too much money in earned income can cost you if you continue to work after claiming Social Security benefits early. With what is commonly known as the Social Security earnings test for annual income, you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you make over the earnings limit, which in 2022 is $19,560. Once you are past full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, and you can make as much money as you want with no impact on benefits.
Any Social Security benefits forfeited to the earnings test are not lost forever. At your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefits to take into account benefits lost to the test. For example, if you claim benefits at 62 and over the next four years lose one full years worth of benefits to the earnings test, at a full retirement age of 66 your benefits will be recomputed and increased as if you had taken benefits three years early, instead of four. That basically means the lifetime reduction in benefits would be 20% rather than 25%.