Even if a spouse is not eligible for Social Security, he or she may be able to get benefits if at least 62 years of age and you are receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. The spouse can also qualify for Medicare at age 65.
How much will my spouse receive?
If your spouse is under full retirement age and qualifies on his or her own record, that amount will be paid first. But if he or she also qualifies for a higher amount as a spouse, they’ll get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount. If he or she begins receiving benefits:
- before the full retirement age, the amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months up to his or her full retirement age.If your spouse is under full retirement age and works, his or her benefits may be affected.
- When reaching full retirement age, the benefit can equal up to on half of your full retirement amount.
*A person can receive the spouse’s benefit at any age if caring for your child (until the age of 16) who is receiving benefits.
If you or your spouse are full retirement age
If both you and your spouse are full retirement age, you can apply for retirement benefits and request to have payments suspended in order to receive one benefit and delay the other to earn credits.
If your spouse has reached full retirement age and is eligible for a spouse’s benefit and his or her own retirement benefit, he or she has a choice. The spouse has a choice when applying online to receive only the spouse’s benefit and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date.
If your spouse worked
If not already receiving benefits, your spouse can apply online for benefits at the same time, or apply online after you start receiving benefits and the eligibility of the spouse will be checked. If qualified, the online application will automatically include a request for spousal benefits.
How to become eligible for Social Security benefits
To qualify for retirement benefits you must have paid into Social Security tax while you were working and earned “credits” toward benefits. The number of credits you need to be eligible for social security benefits depends on the year that you are born. If your birth year is 1929 or later, you must have 40 credits, the equivalent of 10 years of work. Social security benefits can not be paid until the required amount of credits is obtained.
Determining how much Social Security you will receive
The Social Security payment that you will receive is based on the amount you earned during your working career. The more money you earned the higher your benefit. Other factors such as the age at which you start pulling from your Social Security also affect the payment amount.
Create a mySocialSecurity account to look at your Social Security statement.
When you are eligible for Social Security Benefits
The full retirement age varies (see figure below). If you have a retirement age of 66 then you would be able to start drawing on your social security with a 25% penalty at age 62. In addition, if you choose to delay collecting each year, up to age 70, your benefits are increased by 8%.
|If you were born in …||Your full retirement age is …|
|1937 or earlier||65|
|1938||65 and 2 months|
|1939||65 and 4 months|
|1940||65 and 6 months|
|1941||65 and 8 months|
|1942||65 and 10 months|
|1955||66 and 2 months|
|1956||66 and 4 months|
|1957||66 and 6 months|
|1958||66 and 8 months|
|1959||66 and 10 months|
|1960 or later||67|
Factors to consider
When deciding if you want to take money from your Social Security, there are many factors to consider. Taking money out too soon could mean settling for lower monthly payments.
1. Your instant cash needs. If you are financially sound without the help of social security then it is better to leave your social security and gain 8% interest per year until you have to start taking it. If you are just making ends meet with the help of a social security check, postponing retirement till you meet your full requirement age, is a better option.
2. Your life expectancy and break even age. If you take your social security before your full time retirement age, you will be receiving a lower payment each month for a longer period of time. The alternative is taking social security later and receiving fewer larger checks.
Calculate your break even age to plan when the best time to apply for your benefits in order to optimize your benefits.
|Monthly Social Security benefits||Retirement age||Break-even age|
|$1,992||62 vs. 66||Between 77 and 78|
|$2,676||62 vs. 70||Between 80 and 81|
|$3,557||66 vs. 70||Between 83 and 84|
Changing your Social Security Benefits
If you have made a decision to change the way your Social Security benefits have been set up you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply later.
If it has been 12 months or more after you became entitled to your retirement benefits, you can no longer withdraw your application.
Withdrawing your application
When withdrawing an application here is what you would need to know:
- You must repay all the benefits you and your family received based on your retirement application. Benefits anyone, including spouse or children received based on your application will be repaid. Anyone who received benefits must write consent with the withdraw.
- Money withheld from your checks from Medicare part B, part C, and part D premiums, Voluntary tax withholding for all years, and garnishments must be repaid.
How to withdraw your application
- Fill out Social Security Form SSA-521 and include the reason why you want to withdraw the application on the form.
- Send the completed form to the Social Security Administration and you will be notified on the amount that you need to repay.
How to manage your Social Security benefits online
By using mySocialSecurity you get access to
- Get your benefit verification letter;
- Check your benefit and payment information and your earnings record;
- Change your address and phone number; and
- Start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment.
We get tons of questions about Social Security Benefits, SSI, disability, death and spousal benefits, how to apply, getting benefits at age 62 and more. We have picked the top 12 issues people have questions about and have answered them below. Scroll down below to see our list.
12 Questions About Social Security
- How does Social Security work?
- How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
- Manage or Change Social Security Benefits
- When am I eligible for Social Security Benefits
- Social Security Spousal Benefits
- Social Security Survivor Benefits
- Medicare Eligibility
- How to get Disability Benefits
- How to do a Name Change
- Social Security Forms
- Questions about Social Security Card Number
- Will Social Security be there When I Retire?