Social Security Spousal Benefits Requirements
Based on actuarial studies, after a married couple reaches 65 years old, a majority of the time, one spouse will outlive the other by as much as 10 years. So the decision on who should file for benefits and when that should take place can have a major long-term impact on the income of a surviving spouse.
Spouses who never worked or have had low earnings throughout the course of their life are entitled to receive up to half of their spouses full retirement benefit. Depending on your personal situation, you may receive your own benefit or a blended amount of both you and your spouses benefit. Either way, you will receive a combination of benefits that gives you the highest possible amount.
One strategy often employed is for a spouse to take their spouses retirement benefit and delay taking their own benefit. By doing so, you can continue to accrue delayed retirement benefits which will result in a larger benefit amount when you file for your own retirement benefit.
Social Security Entitlement Requirements
Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income may also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI benefits is also an application for Social Security benefits. We often need to obtain additional information from the person before we can award Social Security benefits.
The following sections provide information on who may be entitled to Social Security benefits.
TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AS A WORKER YOU MUST BE:
Age 62 or older, or disabled or blind and
“Insured” by having enough work credits.
For applications filed December 1, 1996, or later, you must either be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien in order to receive monthly Social Security benefits.
HOW MUCH WORK DO YOU NEED TO BE”INSURED”?
We measure work in “work credits”. You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.
To be eligible for most types of benefits , you must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between age 21 and the year in which you reach age 62 or become disabled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits. A minimum of six work credits is required, regardless of age.
The rules are as follows:
|Born After 1929|
WHO CAN RECEIVE BENEFITS ON YOUR EARNINGS RECORD?
If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may qualify if he or she is:
What If You Don’t Have Enough Work Credits To Claim Social Security
If you don’t accrue enough work credits in your lifetime to collect a Social Security benefit, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. If you’re married to or divorced from someone who’s entitled to benefits, and meet other eligibility criteria, you can still get a nice payout from Social Security in the form of spousal benefits. Spousal benefits are worth up to 50% of the amount your current or former spouse is eligible to collect. In other words, if your spouse is entitled to a $1,600 monthly Social Security benefit, you could be in line for an $800 monthly benefit at full retirement age.
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Do Survivor Benefits Increase After Full Retirement Age
If you are the surviving spouse who is claiming benefits based on your deceased partner’s work record, there is no benefit to waiting until after FRA to claim your benefits. You do not earn delayed retirement credits, so your benefit will not increase.
However, if you are the higher-earning spouse, delaying your claim for benefits until after FRA can result in your widow receiving more monthly income, as your widowed partner will receive the higher of the two monthly benefits you were each receiving.
What Is The Social Security Income Limit
The earnings limit is also known as the income limit, or the earnings test. The official term is earnings test, but income limit and earnings limit are the terms that youll hear most often.
For our purposes, know that all these terms mean the same thing and there are four quick facts about the Social Security income limit that you should know before we jump all the way into explaining the test or limit:
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Watch Out For Hidden Costs
Youll also want to consider other lifestyle factors, especially Medicare. Americans become eligible for federal health insurance coverage at age 65, well after when you can begin to file for Social Security.
If you stop working at age 62 and lose health insurance, you have to get supplemental insurance to bridge the gap until you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in, Neiser says.
If you work during retirement, you have another incentive to delay collecting Social Security. Earning too much at a job after you begin collecting your benefit can reduce your payout, but only if you have yet to hit full retirement age.
However, when you hit full retirement age, your benefit will increase to account for any benefit that was withheld earlier due to working. Heres how much you can earn and not get hit.
If youre younger than full retirement age for all of 2021, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 of your monthly check for every $2 you earn above $18,960 per year.
If you reach full retirement age in 2021, the administration deducts $1 of your monthly check for every $3 you earn above $50,520 until the month you reach retirement age.
Youll also owe Social Security and Medicare tax on your earnings, even if youre already receiving benefits.
So those are some potential pitfalls to claiming Social Security early.
What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.
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If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
Contact the authorizing agency directly to find out why they sent the payment. You may be able to find the authorizing agency in the memo line of the check. View this diagram of a sample Treasury check to help you locate the authorizing agency contact information on your own check. Scroll about half way down the page to see the diagram.
If you’re unable to find which agency authorized the payment, . They can help you determine which government agency you need to contact. To find which RFC you need to call, look for its city and state at the top center of the check.
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitmate and issued by the government.
Here’s What You Need To Know About Social Security Eligibility
Social Security isn’t something you’re entitled to just because. You need to earn your benefits by paying taxes on wages throughout your career. What if you only work for a handful of years, or spend most of your life as a part-time worker? Here’s what you need to know about Social Security eligibility.
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Social Security Full Retirement Age And Delayed Retirement
There is obviously a financial bonus to consider. Delaying retirement to your full Social Security retirement age will put more benefits in your pocket. If you reach full retirement age of 66 in 2016, you receive an added eight percent benefit for every year you delay collecting Social Security retirement benefits.
If you decide to work until age 70 and delay your request of Social Security retirement until that time, your benefit is 32 percent more because of the decision to delay. The decision can have meaningful income consequences. The maximum Social Security retirement benefit in this situation is a monthly benefit of USD 3,501 per month.
Waiting to draw Social Security retirement benefits pays but, if you must request Social Security at full Social Security retirement age , these benefits are yours. Youve earned them.
Of course, married people must plan retirement for two. If you earn or earned more money than your spouse, the decision to consider delayed retirement can mean more survivor benefits for your spouse if you die before him or her.
Lets review some scenarios about when to draw Social Security and Social Security age considerations.
Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries
You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.
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Special Monthly Income Limit Rule For The First Year
Many people who retire mid-year have already earned more income than the limit allows. This is why there is a special rule where the earnings limit switches from an annual limit to a monthly limit.
This rule allows you to receive a check for any month you are considered retired by the SSA even if you have already exceeded the annual earnings limit.
That sounds straightforward enough but the interpretation of retired as defined by the SSA can cause some confusion. Heres what they mean by this term:
You are retired if your monthly earnings are 1/12 of the annual limit or less and you did not perform substantial services in self-employment.
Essentially, you are considered retired unless you make more than the income limit. The rule for the year you reach full retirement age also applies when working with the monthly limit. In this calendar year for 2021, the limit is $4,210 .
Its very important to remember that in the year following this first year, the monthly limit is no longer used and the earnings limit is based solely on your annual earnings limit.
Social Security Survivor Benefits For Spouses
Surviving spouses can receive benefits based on the benefit amount that the deceased was receiving from Social Security at the time of death.
- A surviving spouse can get reduced benefits as early as age 60. Full benefits are available at full retirement age. Benefits are for life.
- A surviving spouse who has a disability can collect benefits as early as age 50. The benefit begins upon the death of the retiree and continues until the surviving spouse is age 65. At that point, they are eligible for the aged benefit.
- Surviving spouses can get benefits at any age if they take care of their spouses child who is under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits.
- Surviving divorced spouses who are age 60 or older can get survivor benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. Divorced spouses dont have to meet the length-of-marriage rule if they take care of the former spouses child who is younger than age 16 or disabled.
How Social Security Helps Pay For Medicare
In addition to automatically enrolling you in Medicare, if you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, your Medicare Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your monthly benefit payment.
If you are not receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits yet, you will get a bill called a Notice of Medicare Premium Payment Due . Bills can be paid for by check or money order, a credit or debit card, or through online bill pay services.
In conclusion, as youre starting to think about Medicare and retirement, do some research and make sure you understand how your Social Security benefits can or will play a role.
Use Our Full Retirement Age Calculator For Social Security
One of the keys of deciding when to retire is determining when you will reach your full retirement age. Full retirement age, also known as normal retirement age, is the age you must reach to start receiving full retirement benefits from Social Security. This age varies depending on when you were born. Because people are generally healthier and living longer, this age has gradually been increasing. For people born before 1938, the full retirement age is 65. People born between 1938 and 1960 are on a scale that ranges up to age 67.
Social Security has developed a Full Retirement Age Calculator that will give you detailed information on when your full retirement age is and what percentage of benefits you can expect as a record holder or as the spouse of a record holder. All thats required is for you to enter the year you were born.
To use the Full Retirement Age calculator, go to
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Social Security Benefits For Child Of Disabled Parent
The child of a disabled worker can qualify for benefits if they meet the conditions for coverage as a retired workers child. To qualify, the child must be:
- Unmarried and younger than 18, or 19 if still in high school
- Unmarried and age 18 or older if the child has a disability that began before age 22
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How Your Social Security Benefits Are Calculated
Your Social Security benefits are based on the 35 calendar years in which you earned the most money. If you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, each year with no earnings will be factored in at zero. You can increase your Social Security benefit at any time by replacing a zero or low-income year with a higher-income year.
There is a maximum Social Security benefit amount you can receive, though it depends on the age you retire. For someone at full retirement age in 2021, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,113. For someone filing at age 70, the maximum monthly amount is $3,895.
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How Early Retirement Impacts Disability Claims
Social Security disability benefits give you the option to draw early retirement before youre old enough to do so. Congress created this program in 1956 for employees whose health problems force them to stop working at least 12 months. The Disability Insurance trust only approves applicants age 18-65 with enough Social Security work credits to qualify. But what if you just turned 62 and applied for early retirement? Remember, SSD is essentially a way to draw early retirement because your health problems make it either difficult or impossible for you to keep working.If youre approved for early retirement, then you cannot qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Thats because if you qualify for any Social Security benefits at all, your early retirement request will take priority. Once you start drawing early retirement, the SSA automatically denies your Social Security disability claim.
You can apply for early Social Security retirement starting at age 62. However, we recommend applying for Social Security disability instead, since youll get paid more if approved. If youre younger than age 65 and want to double your chances for disability approval the first time you apply, start your free online claim evaluation now.
Maximum Social Security Benefits Example
Say that someone who turns 62 in 2021 will reach FRA at 66 years and 10 months, with earnings that make them eligible at that point for a monthly benefit of $1,000. Opting to receive benefits at age 62 will reduce their monthly benefit by 29.2% to $708 to account for the longer time they could receive benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. That decrease is usually permanent.
If that same individual waits to get benefits until age 70, the monthly benefit increases to $1,253. The larger amount is due to the delayed retirement credits earned for the decision to postpone receiving benefits past FRA. In this example, that higher amount at age 70 is about 77% more than the benefit they would receive each month if benefits started at age 62, or a difference of $545 each month.
A Social Security Administration calculator can give you more-personalized information. Of course, the best time for someone to start taking Social Security benefits depends on a variety of factors, not just the dollar amount of the benefit. Things such as current income and employment status, other available retirement funds, and life expectancy must also be factored into the decision.
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How Does Full Retirement Age Affect Your Social Security Benefits
If you claim your benefits at full retirement age, you will receive your standard Social Security benefit amount. If you claim prior to FRA, you will be subject to early-filing penalties that reduce your benefit by the following amounts:
- 5/9 of 1% for each of the first 36 months before FRA
- 5/12 of 1% for each subsequent month before FRA
This amounts to a 6.7% annual reduction for each of the first three years and an additional 5% reduction for each following year before FRA. If you claim benefits at 62 with an FRA of 67, you will face a full 30% reduction in benefits.
By contrast, if you claim benefits after FRA, you receive delayed retirement credits valued at 2/3 of 1% per month. This results in an 8% annual increase to your monthly benefit. Delayed retirement credits can be earned until age 70, after which time there is no financial benefit to delaying your claim. Delayed retirement credits cannot be earned if you are claiming either spousal or survivor benefits.