The spousal social security benefit is an important benefit and one of the most beneficial available for retirees. However, many people do not understand how it works or how to apply. Even more are unaware of its existence entirely. You can use this benefit to help maximize your social security benefits and remain comfortable in retirement and financial planning as a senior.
Are you are Entitled to the Benefits of Spousal Social Security
Most financial advisers will voice the opinion that Americans need education more around spousal social security benefits. Since you are set to receive an eventual payout of the benefits from social security, you should do everything you can to maximize the amount of money. The benefit applies to current spouses, widowed spouses and divorced spouses. Entitlement to this benefit for current spouses and former spouses only applies if the marriage lasted 10 years and each spouse did not remarry before the age of 60.
For married couples, here are the criteria
- The applicant benefits in favour of the spouse must be 62 years or older
- The spouse must be eligible for general social security retirement benefits (to determine if you are entitled to these benefits, visit benefits.gov)
- Your spouse must have already submitted to receive the benefit
It is important to keep in mind that you are not entitled to a spousal benefit until your spouse files for their own benefit before you apply.
You can receive a spousal benefit from an ex-spouse’s social security benefits even if your ex has not yet filed for his or her own benefits, but your ex must be age 62 or older.
Spousal Social Security Benefit Outline
In a recent report by the Social Security administration, researchers found that 2.3 million people have received at least a part of their benefits as the spouse of a worker entitled to social security benefits.
Some of these spouses had benefits of their own but were eligible to receive a higher benefit because the spousal benefit amount was greater than their own benefit.
What are the exact benefits
- You can potentially claim a social security benefit if you are a spouse based on your own income, and also collect the spousal benefits. This can provide up to 50% of the FRA limit of your spouse’s social security benefit. You can visit the social security website to determine what your FRA is and what benefit amount you could be eligible for.
- There is a better benefit threshold if you wait until your full retirement age as opposed to filing early. There is more flexibility in the age range of 65 to 67. If you file before reaching your FRA (Full retirement age) your benefit could be reduced.
- Social Security will calculate and pay the higher amount of benefit payout between your own earnings and the spousal benefit based on your spouse’s earnings.
There are more laws of social security and details based on your date of birth, therefore it is important to complete your research on the best method to apply for benefits.
How to Qualify for the Benefit If You’re Divorced or Widowed
Spousal social security benefits are only available if the individual applying has not remarried. As opposed to married couples, divorced spouses do not have to wait for former spouses to file for their benefits before they can apply. If you are divorced for more than two years, you can begin to file for social security spousal benefits at the age of 62. However, your spouse needs to be at least 62 years of age or older. It’s important to consider that any attempts to file for spousal benefits for your FRA could potentially result in a reduced payout. Widows can start to claim benefits at the age of 60 and if they have a disability that occured within several years of the death of their spouse, they can apply as early as the age of 50.
How Timing Affects Your Benefits
When you apply for spousal social security benefits, timing is the most important factor. You need to remember that married couples are able to maximize their benefit payout by having the highest earner in the household not collect the benefit until age 70. Extra money can be used for a variety of purposes, such as to help with life insurance, groceries, and other things. You should work with your spouse and discuss the best possible ways you can maximize your spousal benefit payout. Careful planning and forethought can help you retire comfortably.
If you are worried about the financial and emotional uncertainties of retirement, then consider visiting a senior living community at one of our numerous Landmark Senior Living locations! At our senior living communities, we offer programs and services designed to enlighten and engage all residents. If you or someone you love is considering a senior living facility, take the first step today and reach out to our passionate staff at Landmark Senior Living.