How to Receive Spousal Social Security Benefits
If you suffer a disease or diseases or are injured to the point that you can no longer work, you may be entitled to collect Social Security benefits. However, what you may not know is that, in certain situations, your spouse may be able to receive benefits as well. Spousal benefits are only available in certain situations, but if you qualify they can help you and your spouse financially survive during difficult times.
Qualifying for Spousal Benefits
To get spousal benefits, the primary, disabled spouse must apply for and receive benefits first.
Assuming that there is a primary recipient spouse, the spouse receiving spousal benefits must be age 62 or older, and must be married to the primary disability recipient for at least a year. Your spouse also must be caring for a minor child under the age of 16, although that age limitation does not apply if the child is disabled and collecting benefits so long as the child’s disability started before the child turned 22.
The Amount of Benefits
The amount a spouse can receive will depend on the primary recipient’s wage earnings history. A spouse can receive 50% of the monthly benefits being received by the primary recipient. However, if your spouse also receives his or her own benefits because of a separate disability, Social Security will either pay her benefits only, or 50% of the primary spouse recipient’s benefits, whichever is higher.
There is a maximum family limit, so in families where one parent is receiving disability, and a minor child is receiving disability, the spousal benefit may be limited by the family maximum cap.
Retirement and Early Retirement
Because the spouse must be 62, that only leaves a few years before that spouse likely retires if he or she is working. If the spouse receives a Social Security payment by him or herself that is larger than the disability benefit, the disability spousal support will end.
Spouses may want to wait until retirement age to collect spousal benefits, because taking benefits before retirement will result in a permanent reduction of disability payments (much like taking any retirement benefits upon early retirement will incur a penalty). Actual payments may range between 35-45% of the primary recipient’s benefits, unless you are caring for a disabled child or a child younger than 16, in which case the reduction will not apply.
Even a divorced spouse can receive spousal benefits in some situations. The spouse still must be at least 62, and the parties must have been married for at least 10 years before divorce. The spouse also will have to wait until the parties have been divorced for at least 2 years and, absent certain exceptions, remarriage by the spouse will result in termination of the spousal benefits.
Questions about how you or someone in your family can collect Social Security disability benefits? Contact our West Palm Beach Social Security disability attorneys at the Celeste Law Firm today for answers to your questions about your case.