A Woman's Guide To Social Security Spousal Benefits
How to maximize retirement benefits accrued through marriage
Social Security is a vital source of retirement income for most women. For this reason, it is important to understand how the spousal benefit works and how it can impact the amount of Social Security retirement income you receive.
While this information is geared toward women, it also applies to men who may claim the spousal benefit based on their wife's (or ex-wife's) earning record.
As a spouse, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or collect a spousal benefit in the amount of 50 percent of your husband's Social Security benefit, but not both. You are automatically entitled to receive whichever benefit provides you the higher monthly amount.
In order to qualify for Social Security spousal benefits, you must be at least 62 years old and your husband must also be collecting his own benefits. If your husband is of Full Retirement Age and is not yet collecting benefits, he can apply for retirement benefits and then request to have the benefits suspended and receive delayed retirement credits until age 70.
Once he has applied for and suspended his benefits, you would then be able to apply for spousal benefits. Additionally, if you are the higher earner, your husband can apply to collect spousal benefits based on your work record. It is important to note that claiming a spousal benefit does not impact the benefit amount received by the worker whose earning record is being used.
To make the application process easier, you should know your husband's (or ex-husband's) date of birth and Social Security number. You may also be asked to provide certain documents as proof of eligibility, such as your birth certificate or other proof of birth, naturalization papers, W-2 forms, a marriage certificate, or divorce papers if you're applying as a divorced spouse.