Even if your spouse has never worked under the Social Security system, your spouse may be able to receive benefits if he/she is at least 62 years of age and you are receiving or eligible to receive retirement benefits.
This benefit is probably one of the most misunderstood benefits.
The MAXIMUM spousal benefit is equal to 50% of your spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) if you collect benefits at Full Retirement Age (FRA) or later. It never gets any higher than this.
The spousal benefit is determined when the spouse elects to take spousal benefits, not when the other spouse elected to take their benefit.
- Both you and your spouse must be at least age 62
- You must be married for at least 1 year continuously
- Other spouse must be receiving benefits (has filed) or “claim & suspend”
- The spousal benefit is based on other spouse’s earnings record
- Both spouses cannot receive spousal benefits at the same time on the others record
Unlike your own benefits, spousal benefits are not subject to guaranteed annual increases if you defer collecting them beyond FRA. Spousal benefits are at their maximum when you reach FRA, so there is no advantage to be gained by deferring collection.
If you are 62 by 12/31/2015, you have the option at FRA to use the “restricted application” to exclude claiming your worker benefits.
If spouse claims spousal benefits early, prior to FRA, the 50% of PIA is reduced as follows:
62 70.0% (i.e. husband PIA=$2,000-wife = $1,000-early=$700)
63 75.0% (i.e. husband PIA=$2,000-wife = $1,000-early=$750)
64 83.3% (i.e. husband PIA=$2,000-wife = $1,000-early=$833)
65 91.7% (i.e. husband PIA=$2,000-wife = $1,000-early=$917)
66 NONE No reduction-full amount $1,000 at “FRA”