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Social Security Benefits for your Spouse

You may know how to calculate social security benefits for yourself when you retire. But did you know that when you retire, your spouse also receives benefits? As a retired worker eligible for social security, benefits for your spouse will be 50% of your benefits, if he or she retires at full retirement age.

Most people reach full retirement age before their spouse. When that happens, and your spouse wants to receive social security benefits early, the amount that can be collected is reduced.

Percentage Reduction in Spousal Benefits

  • If your spouse wants to receive benefits at 64, the amount collected will be around 46% of the working spouse’s full amount.
  • At age 63, the benefit amount is around 42% of the full benefit.
  • At age 62, the amount is 37.5% of the full benefit.

If your spouse is eligible for benefits on their own work record, Social Security will pay those benefits first. But your spouse may still receive some of your benefits, since Social Security will pay the difference if your spouse’s benefit are less than yours.


Social Security Spouse BenefitsFor instance, suppose you and your spouse retire today at age 66. While raising your children, your spouse didn’t work for several years, and then only went back to part-time work. She qualifies for $820 in benefits.

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You, however, qualify for $2,100 in benefits. Your spouse qualifies for 50% of that amount, or $1,050. In this case, your spouse would receive a combination of benefits from his or her own work record and yours, totaling the higher amount. She’d get $820 from her work history, and $230 from your benefits for a total of $1,050.

Benefits as a Survivor

Spouses also receive benefits as a survivor of a deceased worker. If a husband dies, his widow can start receiving benefits at age 60. If disabled, benefits can start at age 50. The amount that can be collected depends both on the age when the survivor starts receiving benefits, and the amount the deceased husband was entitled to receive.

If the survivor begins collecting at age 60, they’re only entitled to receive 71% of the deceased husband’s benefit. But if the survivor waits until their full retirement age, they can get the full 100%. If disabled, the survivor who begins collecting between ages 50 and 59 will receive 71% of the deceased husband’s benefit.

Benefits as a Caretaker

When you retire, there is an instance where your spouse doesn’t have to wait until full retirement age to receive the 50% share of your benefits. If he or she is taking care of a child under the age of 16, or a disabled child, they can collect 50% of your benefits regardless of their age. If you die, their benefit would increase to 75% if they are still caring for children and not eligible to retire.

Photo by ProgressOhio; Post included in The Wealth Builder Carnival and the Carnival of Wealth

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