Spousal Social Security Benefits: 3 Definitive Facts for Retired Couples

Washington D.C., United States – Social Security has been a foundational social program in the U.S. for many years, providing crucial income for millions of retirees. While traditionally seen as a safety net for those who paid into the system, it also offers spousal benefits for non-working or low-earning partners. As retirement approaches, here are three important things to know about Social Security spousal benefits.

First and foremost, understanding how Social Security spousal benefits work is crucial. Usually, benefits are calculated based on a recipient’s 35 highest-earning years of income. However, a spouse can receive benefits based on their partner’s earning record if they’re at least 62 years old or caring for a child under 16 or with a disability. Additionally, they can receive up to 50% of their spouse’s primary insurance amount if claiming benefits at full retirement age.

When considering when to claim benefits, it’s important to take into account the impact of claiming benefits early or late. Claiming benefits before full retirement age results in a reduction of benefits for both the partner claiming based on their work record and the one receiving spousal benefits. On the other hand, benefits typically increase if claimed after full retirement age, but this does not apply to spousal benefits.

Lastly, it’s crucial to understand what happens if a spouse passes away. Spousal and survivors benefits are closely linked, with survivors benefits providing critical financial assistance after a partner’s passing. Spousal benefits are then converted to survivors benefits, making the recipient eligible to receive up to 100% of their deceased spouse’s benefit. It’s important to note that recipients can’t simultaneously receive spousal and survivors benefits, only whichever is higher.

Overall, understanding the ins and outs of Social Security spousal benefits is essential for any couple planning for retirement. With careful planning and knowledge of the system, retirees can make informed decisions about their benefits.