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SOCIAL SECURITY

How to know if you are eligible for spousal Social Security benefits

Benefits can be recieved by spouses of retired workers even if they have not contributed to the programme themselves and they are pretty easy to receive.

Update:
Benefits can be recieved by spouses of retired workers even if they have not contributed to the programme themselves and they are pretty easy to receive.
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The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows the spouse of a beneficiary to claim partial benefits when their spouse begins to receive their benefits regardless of how much money the spouse has paid into the system.

The spouse claiming the partial benefits must be at least sixty-two years of age or be in the care of a disabled child or one younger than sixteen. The average spousal monthly payout in January 2022 was $839.35, around half that paid to retired workers.

The total amount received in Social Security for a worker is known as their Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). The SSA will use the PIA to calculate the benefit a spouse is entitled to. The PIA is the benefit a person would receive if he or she elects to begin receiving retirement benefits at their normal retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.

Sixty-two is the youngest age spousal benefits can be claimed but there are penalties for not waiting until the spouse is sixty-five or older. At sixty-two, the SSA could give the spouse 32.5 percent of the worker’s primary insurance amount.

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Who is eligible to receive the benefits?

You may be eligible if you are married, divorced, or widowed and your spouse was eligible for benefits. You must also have been married for at least one year.

If you have divorced from your partner you can still file for spousal Social Security benefits. The requirements for claiming benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record include:

  • You must have been married at least 10 years.
  • You must have been divorced from the spouse for at least two consecutive years.
  • You are unmarried.
  • Your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
  • The benefit you would receive from your work record would be less than this spousal benefit.

How to calculate what your spouse could receive

A formula based on the number of months before retirement age of a spouse is used to calculate the total amount that will be received. The formula begins by cutting the PIA in half. Then, the SSA states that the spousal benefit is reduced by seven-tenths of one percent for each month before full retirement age, up to 36 months. Should the number exceed thirty-six months, the benefit will be reduced by four-tenths of one percent.

The SSA provides an online tool that can help you calculate this.

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