Social Security is complex when it comes to benefits, and in many cases even spouses can benefit from their working partner’s benefits.
Married and divorced individuals alike may benefit from collecting on their spouse’s, or ex spouse’s, behalf.
If you’re divorced but remained married for at least ten years, you may qualify.
In some cases spouses may collect even more based on their husband or wife’s income than they would their own.
Here are three rules to keep in mind when collecting spousal Social Security benefits
Your monthly income will be reduced with early filing penalties
This means if your spouse collects $1,500 per month, your benefit could be $750 each month.
The most you will see is 50%.
If you choose to collect benefits before your own full retirement age, you will see less in benefits each month.
It does not matter if your spouse is at their own full retirement age.
If you file early, instead of see half of your spouse’s benefits you could just see 32.5%.
Be sure you are aware of this before claiming benefits.
You can only claim benefits if your spouse has
Though you’re entitled to up to half of your spouse’s benefits, you cannot claim them until they have.
This isn’t the same if you’ve been divorced for at least two years.
Others need to wait until they claim benefits.
If you have your own benefits you can claim, you may do that before your spouse makes their own claim.
Most of the time the lower earning spouse may retire first so their spouse can retire later for larger benefits.
Your spouse can earn delayed retirement credits but you cannot
The primary beneficiary can increase their amount by waiting until they are 70 to retire.
While this tactic works for them, it will not for a spouse claiming spousal benefits.
Waiting to claim spousal benefits will make no difference, meaning that waiting longer is not going to increase your benefit size.
This means you’re better off just claiming at your full retirement age because the amount won’t increase beyond that.