Here's How Social Security Survivor Benefits for a Spouse Work, Learn About Restricted Applications for Social Security Benefits, Social Security Options for Divorced Women, Deemed Filing for Retirement and Spouse's Benefits FAQs, Benefits Planner: Survivors - If You Are the Survivor. Social Security Administration. Social Security Changes—Will They Affect You? Again, this means you will not have a choice about waiting and switching. Though you're … The maximum spousal benefit is 50% of the amount that the spouse is eligible to receive at full retirement age. If you claim before you reach your full retirement age, you will permanently lower your monthly benefit and even your survivor benefit. "Benefits Planner: Survivors - If You Are the Survivor." 2. You can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or you can collect a spousal benefit that will provide you 50 percent of the amount of your spouse’s Social Security benefit as calculated at their full retirement age, or FRA. Before you reach full retirement age, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. Here’s what you need to know about how the Social Security Administration calculates spousal benefits. Your spousal benefits won't be reduced if you're caring for a child who is under 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits. When can a spouse claim spousal benefits? (Check the Social Security website to determine your FRA, as it depends on your year of birth.) If you were born before Jan. 2, 1954, and haven’t claimed your own benefits yet, you are still able to take advantage of the loophole. But even if there’s no death, you can collect a Social Security spousal benefit equal to half of what your spouse gets, if that’s higher than what you’d get on your own. Here’s what you need to know. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit. However, if your spouse is already collecting Social Security (and if you were born on or after Jan. 2, 1954), then when you claim benefits, you are subject to “deemed filing”. But if you’re married, you’ll also have to run some calculations and consider and decide when you and your spouse should start collecting benefits based on varying income history, age, health, and life expectancy. If your spouse is not yet receiving retirement benefits, you can claim your own Social Security starting at 62, and later switch to spousal benefits when your spouse files. It will always be based on your mate’s primary insurance amount. When you turn 70, you would then switch to those earned benefits (assuming they are larger). When you apply for benefits, Social Security will automatically consider you to be applying for both your own benefits and any spousal benefits. If you continue to work while receiving benefits, the retirement benefit earnings limit still applies until you reach full retirement age. For 2020, the earnings test limit is $18,240. Who is eligible for spousal benefits from Social Security? However, spousal benefits are reduced by 25/36 of 1% for each month before your full retirement age, up to 36 months early. If you are married or divorced and nearing retirement age, you may be eligible for spousal Social Security benefits. Your spouse may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits on your record. In many cases, it provides the equivalent of $50,000 to $250,000 of life insurance benefit. If Tom has a $2,000 benefit, and Mary has elected to receive half of Tom’s Social Security for a $1,000 spousal benefit, the two have a total monthly income of $3,000. You are automatically entitled to receive whichever benefit provides you the higher monthly amount. Otherwise, you will need to apply for survivor benefits by phone at 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office. Note that the full retirement age for survivors is different than the full retirement age for Social Security retirement benefits. 5. If you receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security (for example government work), you can still collect Social Security spousal benefits, but the amount will be reduced. What Is the Maximum Spousal Social Security Benefit? Most workers expect to receive Social Security benefits when they retire—and if they’ve earned at least 40 Social Security credits during their career, they will. Social Security spousal benefits are a part of a worker’s retirement or disability benefit given to their spouse. Calculate the Social Security you’re owedÂ, which is based on birth year, and could be between age 65 and 67, Have a spouse that is already collecting their Social Security benefits, Have an earned benefit that is lower than your potential spousal benefit, Be age 62 or taking care of a child who is age 16 or younger or disabled, who is the child of your spouse and who is also receiving Social Security benefits based on the spouse’s work record, Have been married to the relevant ex-spouse for at least 10 years, Be unmarried (your ex, however, can be remarried), Have been divorced for two years before you claim, If you’re taking care of a child who is younger than 16 or who is disabled. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. Next, the SSA calculates 50% of your spouse’s PIA. A Social Security spousal benefit is calculated as 50% of the other spouse’s PIA. How are spousal benefits calculated for Social Security? When you’re ready to apply, we recommend using a checklist to ensure you take the right steps and have the right documentation. If someone claims the spousal benefit immediately at age 62, and for the purposes of this discussion receive $500 a month in benefits, once they reach age 66 or 67 their benefit will be reduced to $250. Social Security spousal benefits are a part of a worker’s retirement or disability benefit given to their spouse. Birth certificate (or another proof of birth), Marriage certificate (and if applying as a divorced spouse, you’ll need a certified copy of the final divorce decree. "Benefits Planner: Retirement." That 50% is the most you could be eligible for—but as with earned benefits, you’ll receive less if you claim before your full retirement age. Your spouse or ex-spouse also must be living (if they are not, you may be eligible for survivors benefits). Example: Jane files for her retirement benefit at age 63 and is therefore receiving a retirement benefit that is smaller than her PIA. There are also other scenarios where you can claim survivor benefits at a younger age (and a reduced percentage), including if you are taking care of a child under the age of 16 or you are disabled.Â. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 ended some of the strategizing around spousal benefits, but there are still ways to maximize your spousal benefits: Spousal benefits can play an important role in a comfortable retirement. So if your spouse’s PIA is $1,000, you could receive a maximum of $500 in spousal benefits. With survivor benefits, if your late spouse boosted his or her Social Security payment by waiting past FRA to file, your survivor benefit would also increase. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. Different rules apply to ex-spouses. File and suspend was a popular method used by married couples to get the most out of their Social Security benefits. If the collecting spouse receives spousal benefits at age 62, she will receive $350 monthly benefit based on the work history of the spouse. 1. Spousal benefits allow you to get up to 50 percent of the total benefits your spouse is eligible for without taking away from their benefits. Social Security spousal benefits may be available, under certain circumstances to spouses, ex-spouses and widows and widowers. A recent law changed the way many people can claim spousal benefits.   That's a cap, by the Social Security Administration. It’s important to consider how the spousal benefit is affected by early retirement. If I decide to start my own Social Security retirement benefits in … Keep in mind, this would mean delaying whenÂ. PIA is the amount of Social Security benefits that your spouse is entitled to at his or her full retirement age (which is based on birth year, and could be between age 65 and 67 – see table in “How are spousal benefits calculated for Social Security?” section). If you’ve been divorced more than once, your benefit can be based on your highest-earning spouse if that marriage meets the qualifications. Married couples should work together to make decisions that optimize their spousal and survivor benefits. What are Social Security spousal benefits? What they may not expect is the additional benefit their spouse can receive as a result. If you were not born in the U.S., you will need to show lawful alien status, U.S. military discharge papers if you served before 1968, W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year. 4. To be eligible for a spousal benefit, your spouse must have filed for their own benefits. Any age and caring for a child entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record who is younger than age 16 or disabled. ), Proof of U.S. citizenship. This figure is available when the collecting spouse reaches full retirement age, but not before. That point is when the spouse reaches their own FRA. A: When a claimant is on a Social Security disability claim, spousal benefits are payable under that claim as soon as the spouse reaches age 62, … By a qualifying child, we mean a child who is under age 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits. The criteria for spousal benefits varies depending on whether you’re married or divorced: If you’re married, to qualify for spousal benefits you must: If you’re divorced, your benefits aren’t connected in the same way, so you can claim spousal benefits even if your ex isn’t collecting Social Security yet. Calculate the Social Security you’re owed in 2 minutes.Â. You might do this if your own benefit amount at age 70 would be larger than your widow benefit. In that scenario, the higher earning spouse would file for earned retirement benefits when he or she reached full retirement age, but then suspend those benefits. Spousal benefits are based on the income earned during a qualifying worker’s life, as well as the retirement age of both the worker and their spouse. How retirement benefits, spousal benefits, and widow(er) benefits are calculated, How to decide the best age to claim your benefit, How Social Security benefits are taxed and how that affects tax planning, Click here to see the full list. "Benefits for Spouses." Dana Anspach wrote about retirement for The Balance. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. Benefits that are taken more than 36 months early are reduced an additional 5/12 of 1%. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. So when someone files for one benefit, they must file for both, and will only receive the higher of the two amounts, with no opportunity to switch later. She specializes in divorce, death, career changes, and caring for aging relatives. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. People receiving spousal benefits based on ex-spouses will continue to get their benefits even if the spouse suspends theirs. You can receive a spousal benefit even if your ex-spouse has not yet filed for his or her own benefits, but your ex-spouse must be age 62 or older.. If you receive spousal benefits and are also entitled to disability. For this to work, your spouse must have already filed for their benefits. The many rules can feel confusing, and the best way to calculate your own benefit is to use a Social Security benefits calculator.Â. Note that the age at which the other spouse files for Social Security benefits doesn’t affect this calculation. Social Security Administration. If you’ve worked enough to qualify for your own Social Security retirement benefits, you will not get both benefits added together. If your spouse and/or you are considering taking Social Security benefits early, consider the long-term effects carefully. You’re eligible for the maximum benefit—the full amount of the deceased’s benefit—if you’ve reached FRA. But that was only until they reached full retirement age. How Much Is the Social Security Spousal Benefit? When you apply for Social Security spousal benefits, they may ask you to provide the following documents to confirm you are eligible: Applying and ensuring you claim the right benefit at the right time for your personal finances can be confusing. Marguerita is a Certified Financial Planner® who helps people meet their life goals through the proper management of financial resources. The 2015 law, however, changed the rules so that anyone born on or after Jan. 2, 1954 is affected by deemed filing even after he or she reaches full retirement age. Social Security Administration. If both spouses work, the total amount of S… You can't claim spousal benefits until your spouse starts collecting Social Security. When someone dies, their Social Security benefits may become available to their current or former spouse, depending on certain circumstances. If you were born any later than Jan. 1, 1954, this option is no longer available.. You can file a restricted application for spousal benefits at your full retirement age. If you’re eligible and can qualify, the spousal benefit can be as much as 50% of the higher-earning spouse’s full retirement age benefit. That allowed them to rack up delayed retirement credits until they turned 70. "If You Are Divorced." If the spousal benefit is more than your own, you’ll get your own earned benefit plus an additional amount to bring you up to that higher spousal benefit amount. This is only an example, and the actual reduction rates are subject to change, so again, contact your local office to get complete information. Instead, you will receive whichever benefit is higher. Taking a spousal benefit does not reduce or change the amount your current spouse, ex-spouse, or ex-spouse's current spouse may receive. Social Security Spousal Benefits Explained, Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019. Workers who delay collecting Social Security until they’re 70 get more in benefits. If you claim benefits before your Full Retirement Age, they will reduce your spousal benefits. Then there is the (ongoing) monthly Social Security survivor benefit. 1  His or her spouse, however, was still allowed to start collecting spousal benefits. You are eligible to begin retirement and spousal benefits starting at age 62. There are many differences between spousal benefits and survivor benefits. These include the same exceptions to the one-year length-of-marriage rule for spousal benefits (if the spouse is the biological parent of the worker’s child or if the spouse qualified for different Social Security benefits in the month prior to the month of marriage). The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. I was born in 1952. If your spouse’s full retirement age benefit amounts to $2,000 per month, your spousal benefit at your full retirement age could amount to $1,000 per month. Once you and your spouse start receiving Social Security benefits, upon the death of your spouse, you will continue to receive your benefit, or your spouse’s, but not both. (Note: there is an exception to this rule for spousal benefits – see the loophole directly below). Spousal Benefits. The earliest you can claim survivor benefits is age 60 (whereas the earliest you could be eligible for retirement or spousal benefits is age 62). If you are divorced and your ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for the same benefits as any current spouse if your marriage lasted at least 10 years or you are caring for a qualifying child. If your spouse or ex-spouse dies and has earned benefits that are higher than yours, you could be eligible for survivor benefits.The size of survivor benefits is based on 1) Your spouse or ex-spouse’s earnings; 2) Your full survivors retirement age; and 3) Whether your spouse or ex was receiving reduced benefits (meaning they started taking Social Security before their full retirement age). Spousal benefits are based on the income earned during a qualifying worker’s life, as well as the retirement age of both the worker and their spouse. When married couples choose to maximize the higher-earning person’s benefit by delaying, it acts as a powerful form of life insurance. Understand the math: At age 64, spousal benefits are $425 because 64 is halfway between ages 62 and 66, and $425 is halfwa… (Check the Social Security website to determine your FRA, as it depends on your year of birth.) If your spouse dies, you can collect a survivor’s benefit as early as age 60. Widows and widowers can restrict their application to file for either their own benefit or the survivor benefit, and then later switch to the other amount. Hi Larry, I am currently collecting Social Security divorced spousal benefits since September 2018. You can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or you can collect a spousal benefit that will provide you 50 percent of the amount of your spouse’s Social Security benefit as calculated at their full retirement age, or FRA.  We break down everything you need to know, and how to apply for spousal benefits. An ex-spouse is exempt from that rule. Claiming early permanently reduces your benefits. Determine the benefits. How Do Social Security Survivor Benefits Differ From Spousal Benefits? Social Security Administration. If you're eligible for your own retirement benefits, you'll get those first. Indeed, to claim Social Security spousal benefits, you’ll need to meet certain criteria. Meanwhile, the higher earning spouse would delay taking Social Security for as long as possible to grow their earned benefits. You don't need to have worked to get spousal benefits. This strategy would let you start receiving spousal benefits, while delaying taking your earned benefits, causing them to grow. Once approved, you will receive monthly payments by check or direct deposit. Social Security spousal benefits are partial retirement or disability benefits granted to the spouses of qualifying taxpayers. In order to be eligible for spousal benefits, your spouse or ex-spouse must still be living. The Government Pension Offset rule reduces spousal benefits by one-third of the public pension amount. "Benefits for Your Divorced Spouse." How to Use Delayed Retirement Credits to Increase Social Security, Here’s How Retirement Planning Is Different for Women, Social Security Benefits for an Ex-Spouse, How Married Couples Can Maximize Their Social Security Benefits, Confused About Spousal Benefits? In most cases, if you can afford to, it pays to wait until you reach your full retirement age to claim your benefits. Social Security Administration. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 closed two Social Security spousal benefits loopholes mainly used by married couples. Accessed Jan. 7, 2020. You can file for spousal benefits the same way you would earned benefits: on the Social Security Administration website, by phone at 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your local Social Security field office. Your spouse doesn’t need to have a work history with Social Security at all in order to qualify for benefits on your record as long as they are at least 62 years of age, and are receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. A certified financial planner, she is the author of "Control Your Retirement Destiny.". Before that, it’s reduced by 71.5%-99%, depending on how much over 60 you are.. Here Are 3 Rules That Can Help, Married? "Deemed Filing for Retirement and Spouse's Benefits FAQs." You could claim the widow benefit for several years, and then at age 70 switch to your own benefit. Social Security’s benefit to your spouse is called the “spousal benefit,” and the benefit may apply to a current spouse, widowed spouse, or ex-spouse if you’re divorced. If you have been or were married for at … If you’re divorced, you’ll get the maximum spousal benefit, 50%, if you wait to reach your full retirement age. If you qualify for Social Security spousal benefits, the size of your benefit can be up to 50% of your spouse or ex-spouse’s primary insurance amount (PIA). If you claim benefits before your full retirement age (table directly below), your benefits will be permanently reduced based on the number of months until you reach that age. People born on Jan. 1, 1954 or earlier, however, can still file a restricted application for just one benefit until they’ve reached full retirement age. Under the new law (which affected everyone going forward, regardless of birth year) if your spouse suspends his or her earned benefits, your spousal benefits also will be suspended. This is 35 percent of $1000. Married couples should coordinate how and when they should each begin collecting benefits. However, with spousal benefits, you have to apply for both your own earned benefit and spousal benefit at the same time. I waited until age 70 to file for Social Security benefits myself so I now draw retirement benefits that include delayed credits. Survivor benefits are for people whose spouse or ex-spouse has passed away. 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