By Tony Stutts
Social Security District Manager in Petersburg
Social Security helps a person secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits, information, and tools that support one throughout life’s journey. If a person doesn’t have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits on one’s own record, one may be able to receive benefits on a spouse’s record.
To qualify for spouse’s benefits, a person must be 62 years of age or older or any age and have in one’s care a child who is younger than age 16 or who has a disability and is entitled to receive benefits on a spouse’s record.
If a person waits to reach full retirement age, a full spouse’s benefit could be up to one-half the amount one’s spouse is entitled to receive at their full retirement age. If a person chooses to receive a spouse’s benefits before reaching full retirement age, one will get a permanently reduced benefit. A person also get a full spouse’s benefit before full retirement age if one cares for a child who is entitled to receive benefits on a spouse’s record.
If a person is eligible to receive retirement benefits on one’s own record, Social Security will pay that amount first. If a spouse’s benefits are higher than one’s own retirement benefits, one will get a combination of benefits that equal the higher spouse benefit. For example, Sandy qualifies for a retirement benefit of $1,000 and a spouse’s benefit of $1,250. At her full retirement age, she will receive her own $1,000 retirement benefit and an additional $250 from her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $1,250.
Want to apply for either one’s or a spouse’s benefits? Is a person at least 61 years and nine months old? If a person answered yes to both, visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement to get started today.
If divorced from a marriage that lasted at least 10 years, a person may be able to get benefits on a former spouse’s record. For more information, please visit the website at www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html.