Even if they have never worked under Social Security, your spouse may be able to get benefits if they are at least 62 years of age and you are receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. Your spouse can also qualify for Medicare at age 65.
If your spouse qualifies on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
If they begin receiving benefits:
- between age 62 and their full retirement age, the amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months up to their full retirement age.
If your spouse is under full retirement age and:
works while receiving benefits, their benefits may be affected by the retirement earnings test.
also qualifies on their own record, their application will include both benefits.
- at their full retirement age, the spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of your full retirement amount.
If your spouse will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security such as government employment, the amount of their Social Security benefits on your record may be reduced.
Note: Your husband or wife can also receive just the spouse's benefit at any age if they are caring for your child who is also receiving benefits.
Your spouse would receive these benefits until your child reaches age 16. At that time, the child's benefits continue, but your spouse's benefits stop unless they are old enough to receive benefits based on age.
Benefits paid to your spouse will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.
Maximum Family Benefits
If one of your children also qualifies for benefits, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family.
The total depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on your record. The total varies, but generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit.
If your spouse continues to work while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to them as apply to you. If your spouse is eligible for benefits this year and is working, you can use our earnings test calculator to see how those earnings would affect your spouse's benefit payments. (Your spouse's earnings affect only their own benefits; they do not affect your benefits or those of any other beneficiaries on your record.)
The Next Step
If your spouse is not already receiving benefits, they can apply online for benefits based on age.
If you and your spouse apply online for retirement benefits at the same time, or if your spouse applies online after you start receiving benefits, we will check their eligibility for benefits as a spouse. If they are qualified, the online application will automatically include a request for spousal benefits on your record.
If your spouse applies for benefits, they need to be ready to supply the information we need to approve their application for these benefits:
Click on the items below for a description of benefits that may be paid to your: