Can I Upgrade My Social Security Benefits From My Husband?

by Rod Howell

    If you’re getting Social Security and find out you’re entitled to higher benefits on your husband’s record, you can switch over and get what is called spousal benefits. These benefits are based on how much your husband is eligible for. Switching to spousal benefits won’t affect your husband’s payments, and it would increase the amount of benefits brought into the house.

    Eligibility

    You have to meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for spouses to get spousal benefits. For disability and retirement benefits, you have to be married to your husband for at least one continuous year. You generally have to be at least 62 years old to meet the age requirement, but if you’re taking care of his minor or disabled children, you can be any age.

    How Much Will You Receive?

    You get one-half of your husband’s disability benefits. If he’s getting retirement benefits, you can also get 50 percent of his amount in spousal benefits depending on your age. You get the full spousal benefits if you’re at full retirement age, which is based on your year of birth. If you’re younger than full retirement age, you get reduced benefits. For example, if you’re 62 years old your spousal benefits are reduced by 32 percent.

    Maximize Your Benefits

    Maximize your retirement income by getting spousal benefits until you reach full retirement age. Getting retirement benefits early permanently reduces your benefit amounts. When you reach full retirement age, you can switch back to your own benefits if it’s higher than your spousal payments. However, you have the option to keep getting spousal benefits and delaying your own until age 70, which is the latest you can apply for retirement. By doing so, you accumulate delayed retirement credits, which increase your retirement benefits.

    Considerations

    Before taking a higher spousal benefit, consider several factors that can reduce your amount including the size of your family. The SSA limits the amount your family receives to between 150 to 180 percent of your husband’s entitled benefit. If there are qualifying children getting benefits on his record, the amount could surpass the family maximum limit and everyone’s check would be reduced proportionately. Also, if you’re receiving a pension from a government job where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, your spousal benefits are reduced by two-thirds of your pension payment. For example, if you receive a monthly pension of $750, your spousal benefits are reduced by $500.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Rod Howell is a writer living in Charlotte, N.C. He graduated from Thaddeus Stevens College with an associate degree in administration in 2000. He published the book "Capitol Conspiracy" and regularly contributes to a blog as well as various other websites, drawing frequently from his experience as an insurance agent.

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