What are the eligibility requirements for spousal benefits? When one files for Social Security retirement benefits, his/her spouse may also qualify to receive a spousal benefit based on his/her earnings. To qualify for spousal benefits, your own retirement benefit must be less than the amount of the spousal benefit and you must be at least 62 years old or be caring for a qualifying child (under 16 or disabled).
What is the spousal benefit amount? One may earn up to one-half the amount of their spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). PIA is the full benefit one receives if he/she begins collecting Social Security at his/her Full Retirement Age (FRA). Just like one’s own retirement benefit is reduced if one files for Social Security benefits prior to his/her FRA, the spousal benefit will also be reduced if one files for spousal benefits prior to his/her own FRA. However, unlike retirement benefits, the spousal benefit will never be greater than one-half the amount of their spouse’s PIA, even if they wait to collect it after their own FRA.
What are the marriage and divorced eligibility requirements for collecting Social Security benefits? In order to be eligible to receive spousal benefits, you must be married for one year or you must be the parent of your spouse’s child. If you are divorced, but you were married for more than 10 years, then you may also be eligible to receive ex-spousal benefits.
If one ex-spouse gets remarried, what is the impact on the other ex-spouses eligibility? In order to be eligible to receive ex-spousal benefits, you must be unmarried. However, if your ex-spouse gets remarried, you are still eligible to receive benefits based on his/her earning records if you meet all the other criteria for ex-spousal eligibility.
Are survivor benefits the same as spousal benefits? No. Spousal benefits are based on a living spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) benefit and survivor benefits are based on a deceased spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) benefit. The maximum spousal benefit one may be eligible to receive is 50% of the spouse’s PIA and the maximum survivor benefit one may be eligible to receive is 100% of what the deceased spouse was collecting.