Which wife gets social security?
Find out which wife gets Social Security, how the spousal benefits are determined, and how much you qualify to get.
Social Security is one of the main sources of retirement income for retired workers. However, apart from providing benefits to retired workers, it also pays benefits to spouses of retired or deceased workers. If you are a spouse or ex-spouse, you may want to know if you are eligible for spousal benefits.
Anyone whose spouse, ex-spouse, or deceased spouse was eligible for Social Security benefits may also be eligible for spousal benefits. The maximum spousal benefit is half of the other spouse’s full benefit, but the benefit may be reduced if you claim benefits early, usually starting from age 62. If a beneficiary is deceased, the surviving spouse (s) can receive up to 100% of the deceased spouse’s benefits.
Who qualifies for spousal benefits?
You may qualify for spousal benefits if your spouse, ex-spouse, or deceased spouse was eligible to claim Social Security benefits.
When a worker files for benefits from Social Security, the worker’s spouse becomes eligible to claim benefits on the worker’s record. The spouse must be age 62 or older or caring for a qualifying child. Generally, a spouse cannot claim spousal benefits until when the worker starts collecting benefits, unless the spouse is widowed.
When you apply for spousal benefits, you are deemed to have also applied for benefits on your own work record. If you have enough work credits, and you have attained the minimum age for Social Security benefits, you can receive benefits on your work record if the benefits are higher than the spousal benefit. Typically, you cannot receive two Social Security benefits at the same time.
How spousal benefits are calculated
If you are eligible for Social Security benefits, the amount you will receive depends on several factors, including your spouse’s benefit and your age when you claim benefits. If you wait until the full retirement age to claim spousal benefits, you qualify to receive 50% of your spouse’s benefit.
The full retirement age ranges from 66 for people born between 1953 to 1955 and increases to 67 for people born between 1955 to 1960. If you also qualify to claim benefits on your own work history, you can opt to receive the spousal benefit, and delay claiming your retirement benefits until age 70.
While the spousal benefit is based on your partner’s benefit amount at their full retirement age, you will receive lower benefits if you claim benefits early. You can claim spousal benefits starting from age 62, but you will receive a reduced benefit than if you waited until the full retirement age.
However, if you are caring for a minor child or a child receiving disability benefits, the spousal benefits won’t be reduced if you claim benefits early. You will still be eligible to receive 50% of the spouse’s full benefit.
Spousal benefits for divorced spouses
You can claim spousal benefits on your divorced spouse’s work record. However, to be eligible for benefits, the marriage must have lasted a minimum of 10 years, and your spouse must be entitled to claim Social Security benefits.
If the ex-spouse has not claimed benefits, you can still claim spousal benefits on the ex-spouse’s work record if at least two years have elapsed since the divorce was finalized. However, you must be at least age 62 or older, and the ex-spouse must have attained the minimum age to claim benefits. If the ex-spouse is deceased, you can claim benefits as a widow or widower.
Spousal benefits for widowed spouses
If you have attained the full retirement age, you may be eligible to receive up to 100% of your deceased spouse’s Social Security benefit. You may be eligible to claim benefits even if your spouse died before reaching the full retirement age or before claiming benefits. You can claim benefits as long as the deceased spouse had earned work credits equivalent to 10 years of work.
If you claim spousal benefit on your spouse's record, and the spouse dies, you must inform Social Security about the death. Social Security will then convert your spousal benefit to a survivor benefit. You can claim benefits on your deceased spouse's record starting from age 60, but you will receive a reduced benefit. However, you can wait until you reach the full retirement age to get the full benefit.
Can I switch from my Social Security benefit to a spousal benefit?
As a spouse, you may qualify for Social Security benefits on your work record and your spouse's work record. Generally, when you apply for a benefit, you are deemed to have applied for the other benefit, and you will receive the higher benefit amount. If your spouse has not claimed benefits, you can claim benefits on your work record and wait until when the spouse files for benefits to claim spousal benefits.
If you want to switch to spousal benefits, your spouse must have begun receiving benefits. You must also be at least age 62 or older or caring for a qualifying child. If you claim benefits at 62, you will receive reduced benefits of up to 32.5% of your spouse’s benefit amount, and the percentage increases gradually until your full retirement age when you are eligible to receive up to 50% of your spouse’s benefit amount.