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Social Security Q&A: Spousal Benefits

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Social_Security_Benefits(MCT)—Q: My spouse and I are both entitled to our own Social Security benefits. Will Social Security reduce our combined benefits because we are married?

A: No. When each member of a married couple works in employment covered under Social Security and both meet all other eligibility requirements to receive retirement benefits, we calculate their lifetime earnings independently to determine their benefit amounts. Therefore, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one spouse earned low wages or did not earn enough Social Security credits (40) to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. To learn more about retirement, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

Q: I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?

A: You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse’s benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction); if your full retirement age is 67, you can get 32.5 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction).

The amount of your benefit increases if your entitlement begins at a later age, up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits on your spouse’s record, you get the full spouse’s benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more about retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration.

© 2013, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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