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Who is eligible for Social Security spousal benefits?

Who is eligible for Social Security spousal benefits?

| June 03, 2022

Q. Who is eligible for spousal Social Security spousal benefits?
— Curious

A. Great question.

It’s smart to understand your eligibility before you need benefits.

You’re eligible for spousal benefits if you’re married, divorced, or widowed, and your spouse is or was eligible for Social Security, Bill Connington of Connington Wealth Management in Paramus.

He said spouses and ex-spouses generally are eligible for up to half of the spouse’s entitlement. Widows and widowers can receive up to 100%.

“To qualify for a spouse’s benefits, you must be at least 62 years of age, any age and caring for a child entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record and who is younger than age 16, or disabled,” he said. “To receive a spouse benefit, you generally must have been married for at least one continuous year to the retired or disabled worker on whose earnings record you are claiming benefits.”

The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker’s primary insurance amounts, depending on the spouse’s age at retirement, he said.

“If the spouse begins receiving benefits before normal or full retirement age, the spouse will receive a reduced benefit,” Connington said. “However, if a spouse is caring for a qualifying child, the spousal benefit is not reduced.”

If a spouse is eligible for a retirement benefit based on his or her own earnings and if that benefit is higher than the spousal benefit, then you would get the retirement benefit, Connington said.

You should contact Social Security directly and it can advise based on your specific situation.

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This story was originally published on May 25, 2022. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.