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Spousal Social Security Benefits: Things to Know

Spousal Social Security Benefits: Things to Know

| November 22, 2023

Social Security is a complex topic. Many people don’t realize that they have rights and options afforded to them as a spouse of a worker who is eligible for social security themselves. If you’re currently or previously married, this is a great opportunity to learn a bit more about maximizing your future social security benefits.

You Have a Choice with Your Payment

You’re able to choose between being paid your Social Security benefit or 50% of your spouse's benefit — whichever is higher. You can tap into your spouse’s higher benefit to boost your monthly retirement income. The qualifying conditions include:

  • Being legally married for a year.
  • You and your spouse are at least 62 years old.
  • Your spouse has already elected to turn on their social security.

It’s also worth noting that if the claiming spouse cares for a minor or disabled child, they can access these benefits.

The spousal benefit is usually 50% of the worker spouse's full retirement age (FRA) benefit. You also have the options when to claim.

  • If you’re the higher earner, delaying the benefit allows it to build up.
  • If you’re the lower earner, you have the option to claim the benefit sooner for an early income stream.

The claiming spouse doesn’t even need a work history to collect the benefits since the benefit relies on the earnings history of the working spouse.

Maximize Social Security Payouts by Delaying Benefits

If you’re between ages of 62 and 70, you can delay your social security to get higher pay. Payouts increase by roughly 8% yearly for retirees amongst this age group. This higher payout is beneficial for the higher-earning spouse, as it allows their benefit to grow significantly over time. However, the spousal benefit is capped off at age 67, meaning postponing benefits beyond this point will not result in a higher payout.

The Survivor Benefit

If one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is entitled to the higher of the two benefits. It’s a compelling reason for the higher earner to consider delaying retirement for a substantial benefit for the surviving spouse in the event of the unexpected.

Spousal Benefits based on the Record of Your Ex-Spouse

The ability to choose the higher spousal social security amount applies even to divorcees who have been married to multiple spouses for at least ten years. Provided you remain unmarried after your most recent divorce and your most recent ex-spouse is at least 62 years. Furthermore, your ex-spouse doesn’t need to be receiving Social Security benefits based on their work record to qualify for this benefit.

Talk with Us

If you have more questions about spousal social security or any other facet of social security, contact a member of the SKG Team. We have the answers to all your questions. Let us help you maximize your benefits.