What is the eligibility for Social Security spouse’s benefits and my own retirement benefits?

If you have not worked or do not have enough Social Security credits to qualify for your own Social Security benefits, you may be able to receive spouse’s benefits.
To qualify for spouse’s benefits, you must be:
  • At least 62 years of age; or
  • Any age and caring for a child entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record who is younger than age 16 or disabled.
Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to one-half the amount your spouse is entitled to receive at their full retirement age. If you choose to begin receiving spouse’s benefits before you reach full retirement age, your benefit amount will be permanently reduced.
 
You will receive your full spouse’s benefit amount if you wait until you reach full retirement age to begin receiving benefits. You will also receive the full amount if you are caring for a child entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

If you do have enough credits to qualify for your own Social Security benefits and you apply for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.

Here is an example:

Mary Ann qualifies for a retirement benefit of $250 and a spouse’s benefit of $400. At her full retirement age, she will receive her own $250 retirement benefit, and we will add $150 from her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $400.

Keep in mind that you may have options to increase your benefit amounts. For more information, see the FAQs on Claiming Changes, Deemed Filing, and Voluntary Suspense.
If you are at least 62 years of age and you wish to apply for retirement or spouse’s benefits, you can use our online retirement application to apply for one or both benefits.

If you are divorced

If you are divorced and your marriage lasted at least 10 years, you may be able to get benefits on your former spouse’s record.

See If You Are Divorced for more information.
 
If your spouse or ex-spouse is deceased

See Retirement Planner: Benefits For You As A Spouse for more information.
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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 34011-3754
  • Date Created: 03/27/2014
  • Last Modified Since: 03/28/2018
  • Viewed: 2999710