Fortunately, the way that Social Security is structured recognizes that married couples walk through life together. Consequently, the benefits you are able to receive are impacted by the amount your spouse earns and vice versa. When you claim your Social Security benefit, the amount you get may be based off of the amount you have earned, or it could be based off 50 percent of your spouse’s earnings. Social Security will offer you whichever benefit is of greater value when you reach your full retirement age.
You need to be 62 years old to qualify for either your own or your spousal benefit, and you cannot collect your spousal benefit until your spouse files for his or her own benefit. You can use your spousal benefit to increase how much you will receive from Social Security by having the highest earner delay taking his or her benefits for a time.
For each year that you delay accepting benefits after reaching your full retirement age, your benefits increase by 5 to 8 percent. Consider living off of your spousal benefits while you can to allow your benefits to accumulate. Your benefit caps out at 70, so there is no point in waiting past that age.
These regulations change, however, if you are a widow or widower. If your spouse has passed away, you can receive your spousal benefit, now called a survivor’s benefit, at the age of 60. Additionally, if you live in the same household after your spouse passed away you can collect a one-time lump sum payment from Social Security in the amount of $255.
Contact SeniorChoices NW in Wilsonville, Oregon for more information about your Social Security spousal benefit and how you can use this benefit to protect both yourself and your loved one.