If you’re getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your ex-spouse or spouse may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your retirement benefit amount if they qualify. These Social Security payments to family members will not decrease the amount of your retirement benefit.
Spousal benefits can be attained even if you didn't qualify for your own benefits. However, if you did qualify for your own benefits, under certain circumstances you can take spousal benefits or file a restricted claim, which allows your personal benefits to continue to grow.
If your spouse qualifies for spousal benefits on their own record, that amount will be paid first. If the benefit on your record is higher, your spouse will get an additional amount off your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
Suppose your spouse was born before January 2, 1954 and has already reached full retirement age. In that case, they can choose to receive only the spouse’s benefit (restricted claim) and delay receiving their retirement benefit until a later date. This option allows their Social Security payments to potentially grow beyond 100%.
If your spouse is between age 62 and their full retirement age, the amount is permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months up to their full retirement age.
If your spouse’s birthday is on or after January 2, 1954, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If your spouse files for one benefit, they'll effectively file for all retirement or spousal benefits. This type of filing is known as “deemed filing.”
If you haven't applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you've been divorced for at least two continuous years. Additionally, if you're divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you've remarried) if:
- Your marriage lasted ten years or longer
- Your ex-spouse is unmarried
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older
- The benefit your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their work is less than the benefit they'd receive based on your work
- You're entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits
Questions to Discuss with Your Financial Professional:
- Am I eligible for spousal benefits?
- When can I claim spousal benefits?
- Does it hurt my spouse if I take spousal benefits?
It’s quite possible you have questions regarding eligibility, benefits, and even the impact on your own benefits. As financial professionals, we’re here to help you navigate this important retirement income. Contact our experienced team today.
This document is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. One should consult a legal or tax professional regarding their own personal situation. Any comments regarding safe and secure investments and guaranteed income streams refer only to fixed insurance products offered by an insurance company. They do not refer in any way to securities or investment advisory products Insurance policy applications are vetted through an underwriting process set forth by the issuing insurance company. Some applications may not be accepted based upon adverse underwriting results. Death benefit payouts are based upon the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The firm providing this document is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any other government entity.
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