Monday, May 16, 2022

How To Collect Spousal Social Security Benefits

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How Do I Apply For Spousal Benefits

Collecting Social Security Spousal Benefits when Divorced

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. Once approved, you will receive monthly payments by check or direct deposit.

When you apply for Social Security spousal benefits, they may ask you to provide the following documents to confirm you are eligible:

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship. 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 and/or self-employment tax returns for last year

Applying and ensuring you claim the right benefit at the right time for your personal finances can be confusing. When youre ready to apply, we recommend using a checklist to ensure you take the right steps and have the right documentation.

Social Security ‘secrets’ All Baby Boomers And Millions Of Current Recipients Need To Know

    Social Securitys Handbook has 2,728 separate rules governing its benefits. And it has thousands upon thousands of explanations of those rules in its Program Operating Manual System, called the POMS, which provides guidance on implementing the 2,728 rules. Talk about a user’s nightmare!

    As a young economist, I did a fair amount of academic research on saving and insurance adequacy. At the time, I thought I had a very good handle on the rules. Then I started a financial planning software company, which makes suggestions about what benefits to take from Social Security and when to take them to get the best overall deal. .

    At that point, I realized I needed to quadruple check my understanding of Social Security’s provisions. To do this, I established contacts with experts at Social Security’s Office of the Actuary. I also hired a specialist whose only job is to audit my company’s social security, Medicare premium, and federal and state income tax code.

    The problem with this strategy is you can only check on things you know about. Over the years, I discovered things I had never heard of. I would then check with the Social Security actuaries who would say, “Oh yes, that’s covered in the POMS section GN 03101.073!”

    The reason is that taking the right Social Security benefits at the right time can make a huge difference to a retirees living standard.

    11. There is no advantage to waiting to start collecting spousal benefits after you reach your full retirement age.

    How Much To Expect

    By visiting the Social Security Administration website you can learn more about the spousal Social Security payment amount you should expect to receive. You can expect your spousal benefit to be roughly 50% of your spouses benefit at their full retirement age.4 When you are eligible to receive your full benefit is considered the full retirement age.

    When it comes to delaying your payments, spousal and personal benefits often differ. Say you were to consider delaying your personal benefits until after your retirement age occurs, the benefit would then increase over time. Keep in mind, spousal benefits will max out at the full retirement age and there is no benefit to delaying past that time.

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    The Two Exceptions To Know Around The 1 Year Marriage Requirement

    Normally, you must be married for at least 12 continuous months to meet the spousal benefit duration-of-marriage requirement. However, there are two exceptions to this rule.

    Exception 1

    If you marry someone who is the natural mother or father of your child, the one year requirement is waived.

    Be the natural mother or father of the workers biological son or daughter i.e., this requirement is met if a live child was born to the number-holder and claimant although the child need not be alive.

    Exception 2

    The 1-year requirement is also waived if you were entitled to Social Security benefits on someone elses work record in the month before you were married.

    An example of these benefits would be spousal benefits, survivor benefits or parents benefits.

    For example, lets assume you will be eligible for a spousal benefit from your ex-husband Joe. If you remarry, you wouldnt have to wait the full 12 months to get a spousal benefit from your new spouse. Instead, youd be immediately eligible.

    This topic is closely related to the Social Security Survivor Benefit. Ive written an in-depth but easy-to-understand article titled Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide to Who Gets What and How to Calculate It if you want to learn more.

    Here Are A Few Reasons Why You Should Consider Applying For These Benefits:

    The 2020 Guide to Social Security Spousal Benefits ...
    • You may be entitled to more benefits than youre getting. Depending on your work history and other factors, you could potentially receive more money from spousal benefits than youre currently getting from your own retirement benefits. While the SSA wont pay both your own retirement and spousal benefits, it will pay you whichever is higher.
    • Life is unpredictable. While you may be healthy and still working, an unexpected injury or illness could dramatically alter your lifestyle and income. Applying for spousal benefits ahead of time provides extra security in case anything goes wrong.
    • Youve lost your spouse. While you dont have to apply for survivors benefits once your spouse passes on, the money could be very helpful if you have limited financial resources or if youre raising a child. Survivors benefits can be a lifeline if your finances are strained after the death of a spouse.

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    You Are Eligible To Apply For Spousal Benefits If You Meet The Following Three Conditions:

    • Your spouse has already started collecting Social Security retirement benefits.
    • You have been married for at least one year.
    • You are at least 62 years old. If you are taking care of a child that is younger than 16 or disabled, the age limit is waived.

    Depending on your age when you apply for benefits, Social Security spousal benefits pay between 32.5 percent and 50 percent of your spouses earnings. If you are also eligible for your own retirement benefits, you can collect these benefits or spousal benefits. The Social Security Administration will pay whichever option is higher.

    You Can’t Earn Delayed Retirement Credits Even Though Your Spouse Can

    A primary earner claiming benefits on their own work history can actually increase the amount of money they get above and beyond their standard benefit amount.

    They can do this by waiting beyond their full retirement age and earning delayed retirement credits. Credits are available until 70, and increase a standard benefit by 2/3 of 1% per month, or up to 8% for each full year of delay.

    While it often pays off for a primary earner to wait to get this extra money, retirees claiming spousal benefits can’t increase their checks using this approach. Delayed retirement credits aren’t available for spousal benefits, which can’t go above 50% of the primary earner’s standard benefit.

    Since you get no bonus for waiting, there’s no benefit to delaying the start of spousal benefits beyond your full retirement age. You still might have to wait, though, if your spouse hasn’t yet unlocked eligibility by claiming their own checks.

    Knowing all three of these rules is vital to making an informed choice about when you want your spousal benefits to begin, so make sure you understand their implications and work with your partner to make decisions about Social Security that make the most sense for both of you.

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    How Much Social Security Does An Ex

    The most you can collect in divorced-spouse benefits is 50 percent of your former mate’s primary insurance amount the monthly payment he or she is entitled to at full retirement age, which is 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955, 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956 and is rising incrementally to 67 over the …

    Can I Collect My Retirementbenefits Early

    When Can My Spouse Collect Social Security Benefits?

    You can start collecting Social Security as early as age 62 but theres a catch. If you collect before you reach your full retirement age , youll receive a lower monthly payment permanently. For example, if your FRA is 67, but you begin to claim benefits at 62, youre signing up to get 30% less. However, this reduction will decrease for each month you wait after age 62, up until your FRA. Think of your FRA as your break-even point.

    Age to receive full Social Security benefits2

    Year born

    65 + 2 months for every year after 1937


    66 + 2 months for every year after 1954

    1960 +

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    Can I Collect My Ex Husband’s Social Security Then Switch To Mine

    Can I collect Social Security as a divorced spouse and wait to claim my own retirement benefit? In most circumstances, no. You can only file what Social Security calls a restricted application to claim ex-spousal benefits alone and postpone claiming your retirement benefits if: You were born before Jan.

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    Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that were putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.

    Our reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most how to save for retirement, understanding the types of accounts, how to choose investments and more so you can feel confident when planning for your future.

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    Who Can Get A Spousal Benefit

    Current spouses and ex-spouses can both get the spousal benefit. You must have been married for over 10 years to get this income.

    You also must be age 62 to file for or receive a spousal benefit. You can also wait longer. If you wait until you are at full retirement age to file, you will get a larger amount than if you file sooner.

    If you are still married, you must wait until your spouse files for their own benefit. There are other rules if you aren’t still married.

    You can receive a spousal benefit even if your ex-spouse has not yet filed for his or her own benefits. Your ex-spouse must be age 62 or older.

    Taking a spousal benefit does not reduce or change the amount your current spouse, ex-spouse, or ex-spouse’s current spouse may receive.

    Who Is Eligible For Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Social Security Survivor Benefits for a Spouse

    You may qualify for Social Security spousal benefits if you meet the following criteria:

    • You have been married continuously for at least one year to someone who is receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits you are a divorced ex-spouse who was married for at least ten years to someone who receives Social Security benefits or, in certain cases, you are a surviving spouse of a deceased person who was entitled to Social Security benefits.
    • You are at least 62 years of age, or you are caring for a disabled child or minor child under age 16 of the retired, disabled, or deceased worker.
    • You are not currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits that are of greater value than your spouses, based on your own work history. If you qualify for both, you will be automatically eligible to receive whichever benefits are worth more.

    The value of the spousal benefits you can receive varies from 32.5 percent to 50 percent of the maximum benefits your spouse is entitled to at full retirement age . Full retirement age for people born before 1960 is currently 66 years and two months. FRA gradually increases to 67 for people born in or after 1960.

    If you wait to claim your benefits until you reach FRA, you will receive the full Social Security spousal benefits you are entitled to. If you claim your benefits before you reach FRA, your spousal benefits may be reduced.

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    Who Is Eligible For Spousal Benefits From Social Security

    We are often asked How do you qualify for spousal benefits from Social Security? Indeed, to claim Social Security spousal benefits, youll need to meet certain criteria. Your spouse or ex-spouse also must be living .

    The criteria for spousal benefits varies depending on whether youre married or divorced:

    If youre married, to qualify for spousal benefits you must:

    • Be married for at least one year
    • 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 spouses work record

    If youre divorced, your benefits arent connected in the same way, so you can claim spousal benefits even if your ex isnt collecting Social Security yet. Note that you do not need the consent of your ex-spouse. Both of you, however, must be at least age 62. If youve been divorced more than once, your benefit can be based on your highest-earning spouse if that marriage meets the qualifications. If youre divorced, to qualify for spousal benefits you must:

    How Earnings Are Calculated For Social Security

    As you make plans for your divorce or retirement, you may ask how social security earnings are calculated how does spousal social security work? First, the Social Security Administration is responsible for all forms of social benefits.

    You need a personal Social Security account according to the Social Security Administration. This account gives you an estimate of your unique retirement benefits and how retirement age affects your earnings.

    The basis of your social security is your lifetime earnings based on your work record throughout your working life.

    That forms the foundation of what the SSA uses to work out social security. Based on this, Social Security adjusts your earnings to reflect historical changes in wages since you started receiving your payments.

    Then, Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings using your best earned 35 years. If your eventual income meets the maximum taxable income, then it is subjected to social security taxes.

    After that, Social Security uses a formula with your monthly average to determine your primary insurance amount . The result is the amount you are entitled to monthly when you reach your full retirement age to claim benefits.

    The full retirement age is currently 66 years and two months, increasing to 67 for people born in 1960 and after. As of 2021, the formula for your average monthly is:

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    The Bottom Line On Spousal Benefits

    Spousal benefits can boost your Social Security if your spouse earns significantly more than you. However, if youre employed for most of your working years, you may still qualify for a bigger benefit on your own. If youre wondering how much youd qualify for on your own record or your spouses, you can create a my Social Security account to estimate your benefits and kickstart your retirement planning.

    Social Security Spousal Benefits Loophole

    Can I Collect Social Security Spousal Benefits?

    A recent law changed the way many people can claim spousal benefits. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 closed two Social Security spousal benefits loopholes mainly used by married couples.

    Deemed filing

    Prior to the law change, people who were eligible for earned benefits and spousal benefits were required to file for both at the same time, a practice known as deemed filing. But that was only until they reached full retirement age. Once they hit full retirement age, if they hadnt claimed any benefits, they could claim just their spousal benefits first, and delay taking their own earned benefits. That allowed them to rack up delayed retirement credits until they turned 70.

    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. 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.

    People born on Jan. 1, 1954 or earlier, however, can still file a restricted application for just one benefit until theyve reached full retirement age.

    There are two exceptions where deemed filing doesnt apply:

  • If youre taking care of a child who is younger than 16 or who is disabled
  • If you receive spousal benefits and are also entitled to disability. In those cases, you can file a restricted application for spousal benefits without also applying for earned benefits.
  • File and suspend

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    Can I Draw Social Security Off My Husband At 62

    You can claim spousal benefits as early as age 62, but you wont receive as much as if you wait until your own full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you choose to claim spousal benefits at 62, youd receive a benefit thats equal to 32.5% of your spouses full benefit amount.

    What Is The Lowest Social Security Payment

    Imagine that an individual who attained full retirement age at 67 had enough years of coverage to qualify for the full minimum Social Security benefit of $897. If they filed at 62, there would be a 30% reduction to benefits. This means that for 2020, the minimum Social Security benefit at 62 is $628.

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