Social Security Benefits formSocial Security can be a confusing concept. When starting out in the workforce, some people may wonder why paychecks are shared with Social Security. As you get closer to retirement age, you begin thinking about eligibility requirements and how much money you will collect.

While there are many factors that contribute to what you will receive upon retirement, many people do not realize that Social Security benefits can be shared between spouses. Even if you’ve never worked under Social Security, you may be eligible for spousal benefits by meeting a few criteria.

Do You Qualify for Spousal Benefits?

First, your spouse needs to file for retirement or disability benefits and be approved. Once he or she starts receiving Social Security, you are only eligible to receive benefits if you are 62 years or older. In the case of divorced couples, the ex-husband or wife can qualify to receive Social Security from the ex-partner, even if the application has not yet been filed – with some stipulations:

  • Both parties need to be 62 years old
  • Couple was married 10+ years
  • Couple has been divorced 2+ years
  • Ex-spouse seeking benefits did not remarry

Widows and widowers can also receive spousal Social Security benefits at age 60. If the living person suffered from a disability at least 7 years before the spouse’s death, the age for receiving benefits is lowered to 50.

What Are Spouses Eligible to Receive?

Qualified spouses can receive up to 50 percent of their spouse’s Social Security benefits. If you have a work history and are eligible to earn your own benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider both sets of earnings and pay the higher benefit. However, if you have not reached full retirement age, filing for benefits early means your spousal benefit may be lower. Depending on when you were born, full retirement age varies, but it’s generally between ages 65 and 67.

Should You Apply for Spousal Benefits?

As with all forms of retirement planning, it’s important to strategize how you can receive maximum Social Security benefits. Discuss your options with a financial advisor to make sure you’re taking full advantage of Social Security at the right time in your lives.
Avon Health Center is a local resource for older individuals and their families who have questions about aging. To learn more about the services we offer, contact us today!