Spousal and survivor’s benefits

Spousal benefits

You may be able to receive Social Security spousal benefits if:

  • You are at least 62 years of age, and
  • Your spouse or ex-spouse is receiving or is eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits

If you’re married

You can collect Social Security based on your own earnings history or receive a spousal benefit equal to up to 50% of your spouse’s benefit. (Spousal benefits are not increased if you postpone taking them past your full retirement age.)

If you’re divorced

If you are divorced, you can receive Social Security benefits starting at age 62 based on your ex’s earnings record, as long as you were married at least 10 years. Once you remarry, though, you generally can’t keep collecting benefits on your former spouse’s earnings record unless your current marriage ends.
An older couple reading a story to their infant grandchild.

Survivors benefits

If your spouse dies, you can generally receive full Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s earnings record at your full retirement age. Or you can get reduced benefits as early as age 60. You can get reduced benefits at any age if you’re caring for a child who is under 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on the worker’s record. As a surviving spouse, you’re also typically entitled to a one-time death payment.

Your next steps

Visit the Social Security website (ssa.gov) to learn more about spousal or survivors benefits, review your statement, or estimate your benefits.
Or try this benefits calculator at the Social Security website.
Also, meet with your financial advisor to discuss the best time for you (and your spouse, if you’re married) to begin collecting your monthly Social Security checks. It’s a conversation that can pay off over the rest of your life.
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