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Are You Eligible for Social Security Spousal Benefits?

Filed under: Social Security Planning

Wondering where your income will come from in retirement? You may have a pension, a 401(k) or even an IRA or other personal savings. No matter your situation, however, Social Security is almost certainly going to be a part of your retirement income mix. Nearly 90 percent of all retirees rely on Social Security benefits for a portion of their income.1

Your Social Security benefit amount is based on a few factors. One of the biggest is when you file. You can file for benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Generally, the longer you wait, the higher your benefit amount will be.

Another big factor is your career earnings. Your Social Security benefit is based on the average of your 35 highest-earning years. Of course, that could be problematic if you have limited work history. For example, perhaps your spouse has a much higher earning history than you do.

Fortunately, Social Security offers something called a “spousal benefit” for spouses who’ve earned significantly less than their husband or wife. Under a spousal benefit, you receive your own benefit, plus an additional amount that would equal ½ of your spouse’s benefits, if your own is less than half of your spouse’s benefit. .

Are you eligible for a spousal benefit? Below are three groups that are usually eligible. If you belong to one of these groups, you may want to explore spousal benefits as part of your planning process.


Current Spouse

This is the most straightforward situation. If you are currently married to someone who has a higher benefit amount, you are likely eligible to receive a spousal benefit based on their career earnings.

The only qualification criteria are that you must be at least age 62 and your spouse must already be receiving Social Security benefits. If they have not yet filed, you may be able to file for your own benefit, but not a spousal benefit.


Former Spouse

Yes, you can file for spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings. However, there are a few criteria you must meet. You must be at least 62 years old and unmarried. Also, your ex-spouse must be eligible for Social Security. They don’t have to have already filed, but they must be eligible to file. Finally, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.2 It’s important to note that filing for spousal benefits doesn’t impact your former spouse or their current spouse in any way. You don’t have to communicate with them to file for the benefit, and it won’t affect their ability to file or their benefit amount.


Former Spouse and Parent of a Disabled Child

Do you and your former spouse have a child who is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits? If so, you may be eligible for spousal benefits if you are the primary guardian and caregiver for that child. In fact, you don’t even have to be age 62 to qualify.

However, these types of benefits are based on a number of complicated criteria. You may want to consult with a financial professional and the Social Security Administration to better understand your eligibility.

Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us at Ambrose Financial & Insurance Services. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.





Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

The material is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The insurance agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. Clients should seek guidance from the Social Security Administration regarding their particular situation. The insurance agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. Social Security benefit payout rates can and will change at the sole discretion of the Social Security Administration. For more information, please consult a local Social Security Administration office, or visit

17376 – 2018/2/13