How Does My Spousal Social Security Benefit Work?

If you have never worked or paid Social Security taxes (or haven’t paid them long enough), you won’t be able to claim Social Security retirement benefits on your own. However, you may be able to receive spousal benefits through your spouse’s account. You can file a claim under their account from age 62, provided your spouse has already filed a claim to collect their own benefits. You can also apply Health Insurance health coverage at age 65.

Key points to remember

  • Spouses who are not eligible for Social Security on their own work record can apply for benefits based on the other spouse’s record.
  • The maximum spousal benefit is 50% of the other spouse’s benefit.
  • People can apply for spousal benefits as early as age 62, but they’ll get more money if they wait until full retirement age.

Spouse social security rules [2022]

For many working couples, both partners will be able to receive individual benefits. However, this does not prevent either person from collecting from the other person’s account. When you apply for benefits, both accounts will be checked to determine which application will result in a higher benefit amount.

If your own advantage is greater, you will automatically receive this amount. If your spousal benefit is higher, you will receive a combination of benefits that total that amount.

Although you can apply for spousal benefits as early as age 62, your benefit will be permanently reduced from what you would receive at your full or “normal” retirement age. The full retirement age for Social Security purposes is between 66 and 67, depending on your year of birth.

One exception: If you are caring for your spouse’s child who is under 16 or receiving Social Security disability benefits, you can collect spousal benefits at any age without reduction.

Also, if you decide to apply before full retirement age, your benefit amount may be reduced if you keep workingdepending on how much you earn. Eligibility for government, foreign or civil service pensions may also affect your payments.

If you wait until full retirement age to apply for benefits, you will receive the maximum amount you can receive as a spouse. This equals 50% of your spouse’s benefit amount.

The benefit claiming strategy known as “file and suspend” has been totally eliminated.

Amendments to the Social Security Act

Some changes to the law in recent years have affected how you can collect spousal benefits. If you were born on or before January 1, 1954, you may still be eligible to use a claim strategy known as “restricted claim” to increase your benefits.

Young beneficiaries will not be able to use this strategy, which was removed by the bipartisan budget law of 2015.

How the Restricted Application Strategy Works for Eligible Spouses

If you reach full retirement age and are entitled to your own benefits as well as spousal benefits, you can elect to collect benefits from your spouse’s account now and defer your own benefits until later. late. To file a restricted claim, you and your spouse must have reached full retirement age and you must both have filed for Social Security benefits.

Filing a restricted claim may result in a higher benefit amount when you later file a claim for Social Security under your own account. This is because you will have accumulated deferred retirement credits for each year of deferred retirement, up to age 70, when the benefits are maximum.

Each year of deferred retirement is worth an additional 8% in benefits for people born between 1943 and 1954. So, for example, someone born in 1952 who retires in 2021 at age 69 will receive an additional 24% on top of what they would receive. received if they had started receiving in 2018 at full retirement age. However, only one person per couple can receive spousal benefits while acquiring deferred retirement bonuses on their own account.

And, to repeat, this option is no longer available to anyone not born on or before January 1, 1954.

‘File and Suspend’ has been totally eliminated

You may also hear or read about another Social Security claim strategy known as file and suspend. Unfortunately, it is no longer applicable, also due to the bipartisan finance law of 2015. Using this strategy, the highest-earning spouse could file for Social Security at full retirement age ( thus enabling her spouse to obtain spousal benefits), but then “suspend” her application and not receive her benefits until later, while accumulating deferred retirement bonuses in the meantime.

Application for spousal benefits

You can apply for spousal benefits online at Social Security Administration (SSA) website, by phone or by making an appointment with your local Social Security office. The SSA website also has links to information about the maximum amount you can earn while collecting benefits and a online calculator to help you estimate your potential spousal benefit.