When you file for Social Security benefits on your own record, Social Security considers you’re filing for both individual and spousal benefits. You’re supposed to receive the higher of the two calculations. The spousal benefit may apply to a
current spouse, widowed spouse, or ex-spouse if you’re divorced. Ex-spouses married for 10 years or more (and divorced for at least two years), who don’t remarry before turning 60, may be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. Usually the Social Security spousal benefit is about half of the spouse’s full retirement age benefits amount. It is decreased when the initial spouse claims Social Security benefits before the full retirement age is reached.
Spousal benefits are available to collect at age 62. Eligibility is offered for spousal benefits once the spouse claims benefits first, but if the parties are divorced, this rule doesn’t apply. Once a person qualifies for spousal benefits and begins to receive the benefit before reaching their own full retirement age, this benefit is forever reduced.
If you are considering early retirement, you should know how electing it may change your benefits amount. For more information about determining your early retirement benefits calculation, visit the Social Security Benefits section at www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html. For general information and to apply for benefits go directly to the Social Security website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov or contact them by phone at 1-800-772-1213.
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Kathleen J Ferguson