Social Security: Maximizing Spousal Benefits | [3 Tips Inside]

There are a number of benefits that working spouses can get from Social Security, but many people don’t know what they are or how they work.Who can take advantage of these benefits, how much a spouse can get, when benefits can start, and a lot of other questions come up.How is a spouse’s benefit affected by a death or divorce? There is also the issue of deceased spouses and ex-spouses.Continue reading if you or your spouse are thinking about receiving Social Security benefits.You will learn everything you need to know to be eligible for these significant benefits in this article.

Who is entitled to social security spousal benefits?

The name would suggest that a benefit recipient’s spouse is eligible for these marital benefits.While this is true, we will also discuss some unique situations here.The spouse of a benefit beneficiary is the most straightforward example of eligibility.You are eligible for spousal benefits if your spouse is eligible for them.Both you and your spouse must have previously applied for benefits and be at least 62 years old.You will receive the greater of your personal benefits or your marital benefits if you are eligible for them.

Same-sex married couples are eligible for these spousal pension benefits as well.Same-sex couples are eligible for the same benefits as other couples as a result of a 2015 Supreme Court decision.Civil unions and other legal non-marital relationships are also recognized by the Social Security Administration in some instances.Apply if you believe you are eligible for benefits.

The benefits are also available to former spouses, but there are additional guidelines that must be followed in this situation.First, the couple must have been married for at least ten years.In addition, you do not have to be married at this time.Lastly, the requirement that the spouse be in receipt of benefits has been removed.You can apply for the spousal benefit even if your divorce occurred more than two years ago, regardless of whether your ex-spouse has already done so.Because of this, the former spouse won’t be able to deprive you of benefits by not applying for them.

Widows and widowers are the last group to be eligible for these benefits.Even if your spouse is not yet nearing retirement age at the time of your death, you can still receive benefits as long as they have ten years of work credits.These benefits can be claimed as soon as you turn 60, but it’s best to wait until you reach full retirement age (FRA) if at all possible.You will not receive as many benefits if you apply early.

How much to expect from marital benefits

Even though the devil is always in the details, the general response to this is straightforward.In most cases, a spouse will receive half of their entitlement to benefits as marital benefits.This assumes that you wait to start receiving benefits until you reach full retirement age.However, not everyone is able to wait until they are 67 years old to receive these benefits.For those who were born prior to 1955, this age is reduced to 66.

You must first know how much Social Security pays for primary benefits before you can calculate marital benefits.Based on your lifetime earnings record and any necessary adjustments, this is a somewhat complicated calculation.When you retire, you can anticipate receiving more benefits if you earned more during your working years.However, you shouldn’t expect Social Security to completely replace your income.In 2021, the monthly average Social Security retirement benefit will be $1,543.Divide by two, and you’ll find that the typical spouse receives $772 in benefits.Now, we’ll take a look at some of the things that could lead to a different payout.

No matter when your spouse retires, their benefits will be based on their normal retirement benefits.You can apply for these benefits starting at age 60, but if you file early, your benefits could be significantly reduced.The only exception to this rule is when you are taking care of a disabled child.Your benefits will not be reduced if you take care of a disabled child.On the other hand, applying after reaching full retirement age is unnecessary.Since these benefits cannot exceed fifty percent of your spouse’s normal benefits, applying later will not increase your benefits.

Marriage benefits for divorced and widowed spouses

Due to your former spouse’s work history, you may still be eligible for monthly benefits even if you are divorced or your spouse has passed away.We’ll go over the specifics of each of these scenarios in this section.

Marriage benefits for divorced spouses

It’s possible that some people believe that getting a divorce prevents them from receiving these benefits in the future.This is not the case, however.Based on the benefit amount and work credits of your former spouse, you may still be eligible for benefits.You will receive the larger of the two if you are eligible for your old-age pension.If you are no longer married, you should be aware that you must satisfy certain requirements to be eligible for benefits.

Your marriage must have been in place for at least ten years as the first requirement.You will not be eligible for benefits if you have been married for less time than this.After that, you can’t claim these benefits until you’re at least 60 years old.Benefits will be reduced if claimed early; therefore, it is preferable to wait until full retirement age whenever possible.

In most cases, your ex-spouse must have already applied for or received benefits as the final requirement.You can continue to claim your benefits even if your ex-spouse did not apply for them if the marriage ended more than two years ago.

Marriage benefits for widows and widowers

Survivor benefits are the official name of these benefits, and they are governed by specific rules.The fact that the survivor’s benefit is equal to one hundred percent of the decedent’s benefit is the most significant distinction in this instance.If you and your spouse were married for at least ten years, you may be eligible for benefits in the event of their death.If your spouse had 10 years of work credit, you may still be eligible even if they passed away well before the retirement age.

Once more, you must wait until you reach full retirement age to claim benefits in order to receive the full amount.If you apply before the age of 60, the benefit may be reduced by up to 71% of the normal amount.You are not required to wait until retirement age to claim your benefits because you can never receive more than 100% of the benefit amount of your deceased spouse.

If your spouse dies while you are receiving marital benefits, this situation can get a little complicated.You can change your benefits into survivor benefits, which will increase your benefit by a significant amount and substantially double the amount you receive.This should be done as soon as possible because the Social Security Administration does not typically make these payments retroactively.One last thing to keep in mind is what might happen if you get married again.You will no longer be eligible for the benefits of your deceased spouse if you remarry before the age of 60.

3 tips to maximize your marital benefits

It makes sense that everyone wants to get the most out of their efforts.It makes retirement planning simpler and gives you more financial leeway.After all, you or your spouse have already paid all of those social security taxes while you were working, so why not make the most of them?Based on your particular circumstance, the following are some suggestions for maximizing your benefits.

1. Maximize benefits for divorced spouses

Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of the money you get.First of all, stop getting married again!You will no longer be eligible for your former spouse’s marital benefits if you remarry.This will not only reduce your benefits, but it will also eliminate them entirely.You won’t be eligible for marital benefits with your current partner for some time because the marriage must have lasted ten years.

Therefore, you should not apply for benefits until you reach full retirement age.Even though you can apply for benefits as early as age 60, your payments will be lower the earlier you apply.The amount can be as much as 32% of your former spouse’s primary insurance, but it will be 50% if you wait until you are fully retired.Therefore, the two most significant takeaways are to avoid remarriage and to delay reaping its benefits as much as possible.

2. Maximize benefits for widowed spouses

This can get a little more complicated, especially if you can use your benefits and have a track record of earning money.The first two tips are nearly identical to those in the previous section.First and foremost, you should not get married again before the age of 60.You will no longer be eligible to receive the survivor benefits of your deceased spouse if you do this.Additionally, if you wait until you reach full retirement age, you will be eligible for higher payments than if you apply when you are 60.

If a spouse dies before receiving benefits, the surviving spouse may be required to convert those benefits to survivor benefits in certain circumstances.Benefits based on employment history might be able to replace survivorship benefits.To accumulate late retirement credits on their own, some people attempt to collect survivor benefits at age 67 and delay receiving them until age 70.This may result in a higher monthly payment as well as an increase in your benefit amount.This was referred to as a limited claim, but as of 2015, this exemption for social security marital benefits was closed.Now, if you make a claim, it covers all of the benefits to which you might be entitled.

3. Delay applying for benefits

This is a common theme, but putting off applying for benefits will ensure that you receive as much money as possible when you start receiving Social Security benefits.There is no reason to wait until you reach full retirement age to apply for marital or survivor benefits.The spouse’s normal benefit amount serves as the basis for these benefits, which cannot exceed 50% or 100% of that amount.However, your normal benefit amount will rise if you delay receiving them until you are 70 years old.As you waited for your 70th birthday to apply for Social Security benefits, you may have chosen to receive a benefit based on your spouse’s work history at age 67 in previous years.However, this practice is no longer permitted.

The bottom line

When it comes to receiving marital benefits from Social Security, the following are some important points that we will stress.First of all, you don’t have to be married to get these benefits.In many instances, you may still be eligible for these benefits even if you are divorcing or your spouse has passed away.Equally, spouses of the same sex are eligible for these benefits.You will receive the maximum amount of benefits if you delay receiving them until you reach full retirement age.Even though you can begin receiving reduced benefits as early as age 60, this is unlikely to be beneficial to the majority of retirees.Last but not least, if you think you might be eligible for benefits, apply!Benefits won’t come to you if you don’t apply for them.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Are marital benefits taxable?

Benefits from marriage are taxed in the same way as primary social security benefits.Your total household income determines whether or not your benefits are subject to taxation.You won’t have to pay income tax on your benefits if your total income is less than $32,000.50% of your benefits will be taxed if your income is between $32,000 and $44,000.Lastly, you will be required to pay taxes on 85% of your benefits if your income is greater than $44,000.

What is the difference between marital benefits and retirement benefits?

These two components share a lot of similarities and a lot of connections.Retirement benefits are what you get because of your work history and installments into the government backed retirement framework.This indicates that you were the wage earner and are benefiting from your taxes.The primary breadwinner’s spouse receives marriage allowances.A current or former spouse may receive these benefits in certain circumstances, with a cap of 50% of the primary benefit amount.

What is the greatest benefit for the spouse?

50% of the primary allowance is the maximum spousal allowance.This assumes that you wait to start receiving the benefit until you reach full retirement age.Some individuals opt to begin receiving benefits earlier.Even though the benefits will be reduced, this benefit is available from the age of 60.You would receive approximately 32% of the principal benefit at age 60.The wait is well worth it because a few months can make a big difference in how much you get each month.

When can a spouse apply for marital benefits?

If the primary breadwinner has already claimed these benefits, a spouse can typically begin receiving them at age 60.Prior to claiming marital benefits, the spouse must wait until the primary breadwinner has claimed benefits.For those who may hold a disability pension, the regulations are slightly different.You can apply for marital benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled.Additionally, to be eligible for these benefits, you must have been married to your partner for at least ten years.