Claiming Social Security? Here’s How It Will Affect Your Spouse.

Social Security benefits can not only affect your own retirement, but if you’re married or divorced, they could affect your spouse or ex-spouse as well.

If you’re thinking about filing for Social Security soon, it’s wise to make sure you know how your plans could affect your partner. By creating a strategy together, you can boost your Social Security payments and maximize your monthly income.

How your benefits could affect your spouse

If you’re married and entitled to Social Security benefits, your spouse could collect spousal benefits based on your work history.

To qualify for spousal benefits, you and your partner must currently be married, and his or her benefit amount must be less than half of the amount you can collect at your full retirement age (FRA).

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So, for example, say that you are entitled to receive $2,000 per month from Social Security at your FRA. The maximum your spouse can collect in spousal benefits, then, is $1,000 per month. If he or she is also receiving benefits based on his or her own work record, the Social Security Administration will only pay the higher of the two amounts — not both.

The more you’re collecting in benefits, the more your spouse can potentially receive as well. If you’re able to increase your income, then, that could not only result in larger checks for you, but higher payments for your spouse as well.

Keep in mind, too, that the age you and your spouse file for benefits will also affect the size of your payments. The maximum spousal benefit payment assumes your spouse will begin claiming at his or her FRA. If he or she claims earlier (as early as age 62), it will result in a smaller benefit amount.

Social Security for divorced spouses

If you’re divorced, your ex-spouse could also claim Social Security based on your work record.

Your previous marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years, and your ex-spouse must not be married to qualify for divorce benefits. Also, if you’ve been divorced for less than two years, your ex-spouse cannot begin claiming Social Security until you file for benefits.

Regardless of how many people are claiming Social Security based on your work history, it won’t affect your benefit amount. In addition, an ex-partner claiming divorce benefits will not affect how much your current spouse is able to collect in spousal benefits.

When you know how your benefit amount will affect your spouse, it’s easier to plan for retirement. By determining whether your partner is eligible for spousal benefits and calculating how much he or she will receive, you can head into retirement as financially prepared as possible.

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