Spousal Benefits

Posted March 3, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Did you know that your spouse is eligible for benefits under your retirement benefits? These are referred to as “spousal benefits”, and they are linked to both the retired worker’s monthly benefits and the spouse’s age at the time benefits begin. By default, spouses are eligible to receive up to 50% of the retired worker’s “primary insurance amount” as spousal benefits. However, this is heavily influenced by your spouse’s age at the time benefits begin. (For an explanation of how “primary insurance amount” is calculated, see “Calculating My Retirement Benefits”.)

First, spouses must be at least 62 as of the date spousal benefits begin in order to qualify, and they must be at least 67 as of that date to receive the full 50% of the retired worker’s primary insurance amount. If they are not at least 67 on that date, their benefits will be reduced by 25/36 of one percent for each month before their 67th birthday, up to 36 months. If their 67th birthday is more than 36 months away at the time spousal benefits begin, their benefits are further reduced by 5/12 of one percent. Please note that these reductions are permanent, meaning spousal benefits, once awarded, cannot be increased even if the spouse turns 67.

To illustrate, picture someone that receives $1,200 per month as their primary insurance amount, and their spouse begins receiving spousal benefits on their 64th birthday (36 months before their 67th birthday):

The default spousal benefit would be $600 before deduction (50% of the retired worker’s primary insurance amount). Since the spouse’s benefits would begin 36 months before their 67th birthday, their benefits will be reduced by 25%. (A 25/36 reduction over a course of 36 months). This results in a monthly spousal benefit of $450. The spouse will not be eligible for the full $600, even after their 67th birthday, because they began receiving benefits prior to their 67th birthday.

By: Monte Cook Premier Disability Services, LLC®