If you are married, you may be able to collect up to one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. This won’t affect your spouse’s checks.

Receive up to 50% of your spouse’s Social Security benefits

Making the most of your retirement years starts with making the most of your Social Security benefits. If you are married — or were married — and your earnings over the years were much less than your spouse, you may be eligible to apply for spousal Social Security benefits. Knowing your eligibility status as well as the best time to claim your benefits can significantly impact how much you receive. An Advisor with the RSSA® credential can guide you every step of the way.

How do I know I am eligible for spousal Social Security benefits?

Criteria includes:

  • you were married for at least one year
  • you are at least 62
  • you have been divorced for at least two years (but the marriage lasted more than 10)
  • your working spouse will need to have already claimed benefits.
  • if you have a work history, you’ll receive either your benefit or the spousal benefit, whichever is greater.

When should I claim my spousal Social Security benefits?

  • Full retirement age is the best time to claim: When you reach your full retirement age, which varies depending on when you were born — but most commonly between the ages of 66 or 67.
  • Early claims, reduced payouts: If, for whatever reason, you need to claim your spousal benefits before full retirement age, expect to receive a lower amount depending the age you are when filing the claim. This is not a hard and fast rule and there are exceptions, which your RSSA® advisor can explain.
  • Spousal benefits max out at full retirement age: There is no benefit to delaying your spousal benefit claim past your full retirement age, so be sure to claim what you are entitled to — when you’re entitled to it.

Special circumstances

  • Divorced: If you are divorced, you must have been married for at least 10 years and be at least 62 to be eligible for a spousal benefit through your ex-spouse. You’ll also need to have been divorced for at least two years and be currently unmarried.
  • Remarried: If you marry someone else after getting a divorce, you will not be eligible to receive spousal benefits through your ex-spouse. In this case, you will be eligible for spousal benefits based on your new spouse’s work record.
  • Twice divorced: If your second marriage ends in divorce, you can choose to receive whichever spousal benefit is highest, provided the other requirements are met and both marriages lasted at least 10 years.
  • Death: If your spouse passes away, you might be eligible to receive a Social Security survivor benefit that’s equal to the full benefit your spouse was receiving.

The Takeaway:

Whether you’re married, divorced, or widowed — and your spouse is or was eligible for Social Security — advisors that are Registered Social Security Analysts® are ready to go to work for you. RSSA® advisors have the education and training provided by NARSSA (the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts), to help you collect all of the spousal benefits you may be entitled to.

Get Expert Social Security Advice

Need Answers? Request Your Free Consultation

Talk with a Registered Social Security Analyst® — a trained advisor for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you decide to engage the RSSA®, you’ll receive a comprehensive personalized analysis and advice that may provide you with thousands or tens of thousands more in lifetime benefits.