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YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT SPOUSES BENEFITS

Question:
My husband doesn't have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Can he qualify on my record?
 
Answer:
A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker's full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse's benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. You can learn more by reading our online publication, Retirement Benefits, available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/.
 
Question:
Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?
 
Answer:
It depends on your age. If you are between full retirement age and age 70, and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you should apply for retirement benefits and request that the payments be suspended. Then, you can choose to receive benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record. By doing so, you will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70, as long as you do not collect your benefits on your own earnings record. Later, when you do begin receiving benefits on your own record, those payments could be higher than they would have been otherwise because you earned delayed retirement credits. 
 
Question:
My spouse and I have been married for over 30 years and we are about to retire. Will there be any reduction in benefits because we are married?
 
Answer:
None at all. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount, and couples aren’t penalized because they are married. When both spouses meet all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. Learn more about earning Social Security credits by reading our publication, How You Earn Credits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
 
 
 
 

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