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Social Security: Eligibility for spousal and your own benefits

Some people may not qualify for Social Security by the time they retire because they did not work long enough or make enough credits.

social security card with cash representing social security and spousal benefits

There may be other ways you can qualify though.

According to the Social Security Administration, you can qualify for spousal benefits if you meet certain requirements.


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Spousal Social Security benefits

You must be at least 62 years old.

There is one other way to qualify at any age. You can be any age while caring for a child who is entitled to your spouse’s benefits.

The child must be under age 16 or a disabled dependent.


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Your benefit may be worth one half of what your spouse’s benefit was worth when they reached full retirement age.

If you opt to receive benefits before you reach your own full retirement age then they will be permanently reduced.

If you wait until your own full retirement age you will get the full amount in retirement benefits.

Caring for a qualifying child or dependent will also give you full benefits.


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What about my own Social Security benefits?

If you yourself have enough credits to qualify for benefits and apply for both your own and spouse’s, you’ll get yours first.

If your benefits would be worth more by collecting as a spouse, you’ll get a combination of benefits that bring your total to what your spousal benefits would be.

This means if you retired and were entitled to your own benefit of $250 each month, but a spousal benefit of $400, it would be adjusted.

You would get your $250, plus another $150 to give you the grand total of the highest possible benefit of the two.

If you are divorced, your marriage needed to last at least ten years and you can’t be remarried.

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