How Are Social Security Spousal Benefits Calculated in 2023?

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Which of the retirement perks is the most generous? That’s simple. It’s Social Security Spousal Benefits from Social Security! These advantages are among the most significant as well.
Why? So if you follow all the guidelines for using the spousal benefit, it may significantly increase the income of your home.
According to a recent Social Security study, 2.3 million people received at least a portion of their benefits as the spouse of a worker who was eligible for them. Several of these wives received their own benefits, but because the spousal benefit amount was larger, they qualified for a higher payout.

You may also be eligible for premium-free Medicare benefits as a spouse. Having these can lower your out-of-pocket medical expenses, enabling you to stretch your retirement savings even farther and achieve the retirement you desire.
Evidently, Social Security spousal benefits are quite valuable to people who are getting close to the filing age. In order to use the rules effectively, how do you access them and what do you need to know?

Let’s look at the requirements for eligibility and the advantages that you could be eligible for as a spouse.

Who qualifies for social security spousal benefits?

You are also eligible to get benefits based on your spouse’s employment history if they have applied for Social Security benefits.

You must be older than 62.
Regardless of your age, if you look after a kid under 16 or with a disability who is eligible for benefits based on the record of your spouse.

You will be applying for benefits based on your own employment history when you apply for Social Security Spousal Benefits. You will get the larger benefit amount if you qualify for benefits based on your own earnings and it exceeds your spousal benefit. You will receive the spousal benefit if it is smaller.

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Claiming Spousal Benefits from Social Security
Spousal Benefits from Social Security

The spouse of a worker who applies for Social Security Spousal Benefitss may be eligible to receive benefits depending on the worker’s contributions. The benefit is only available to couples who are at least 62 years old or who are responsible for a child under the age of 16. (or one receiving Social Security disability benefits). Also, until the worker files for their benefit, the spouse cannot get the spousal benefit.

Some significant restrictions apply to the spousal benefit as well.

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How Much Is the Social Security Spousal Benefit?

The spousal benefit, if you are qualified and eligible, can equal up to 50% of the entire retirement age benefit received by the spouse with the higher income.

Social Security Spousal Benefit
Social Security Spousal Benefit?

Your spousal benefit at your full retirement age might be $1,000 per month if your spouse’s full retirement age benefit is $2,000 per month.

It’s crucial to remember that this benefit might be less than the higher-earning spouse’s full retirement benefit, but it cannot be more than 50% of it.

That’s because your filing age also affects the benefits. The spousal benefit amount will range between 32.5% and 50% of the higher-earning spouse’s entire retirement benefit, depending on your age when you file.

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How much should you expect to get from Social Security Spousal Benefits?

“At full retirement age, spouse benefits are capped at half of your pension. The spouse benefit cannot increase if [the employee] waits past that point to file a claim, according to Claire Toth, managing partner and senior wealth strategist at Peapack-Gladstone Bank in New Jersey.

Toth alludes to a retiree’s tactic of delaying benefits claims until beyond reaching full retirement age in order to receive a greater monthly payout. If you wait until you’re at least 70 years old to file for Social Security, your payout will be significantly increased. It’s a technique to increase your earnings without putting in additional effort.

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How Social Security Spousal Benefits Are Calculated in 2023?

The amount of the other Social Security Spousal Benefits is calculated based on what they would be if they began receiving benefits at the full or “normal” retirement age.

According to your own age when you start receiving benefits, the Social Security Administration’s online calculator can help you determine what portion of your spouse’s payments you will be entitled for.

The quick answer to the calculation is that, so long as you wait until you reach full retirement age, you are qualified for half of your spouse’s benefit amount. You will receive less money the earlier you submit.

Social Security Spousal Benefits
Social Security Spousal Benefits

For instance, Julie’s $800 benefit would be cut to $560 if she filed at age 62. The $130 “spouse top-off” would replace the $200 “spouse top-off.”

Remember that, according to the aforementioned figure, Julie’s individual benefit was decreased from $200 to $130 by 70% since she filed early; thus, her spousal part was decreased by 65%.

Her total benefits in this case would be $690.

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Who is eligible for spousal Social Security benefits in 2023?

In general, if you were married, divorced, or widowed and your spouse qualified for benefits, you could be eligible.

A minimum of one year must have passed after marriage for those requesting spouse benefits. Unless you are widowed, your spouse must also have started collecting Social Security Spousal Benefits payments. If your late spouse’s benefits are larger than yours, you could be eligible to collect the whole amount of their benefits rather than the spousal benefit in the later scenario. If you get remarried, you will not be able to receive your late spouse’s benefit.

Even ex-spouses are eligible to file based on their income. The following criteria must be met in order to claim benefits based on your ex-employment spouse’s history:

  • You must have been married at least 10 years.
  • You must have been divorced from the spouse for at least two consecutive years.
  • You are unmarried.
  • Your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
  • The benefit you would receive from your work record would be less than this spousal benefit.

According to the Congressional Research Service, marital benefits are frequently more significant to women than to males. Why? because women are more likely to take temporary leaves of absence from their jobs to care for family members. These work gaps can translate into fewer years of Social Security system payments.

The Social Security Administration estimates that as of December 2022, more than 2 million retired worker spouses—mostly women—will be receiving Social Security payments totaling an average of $901 per month.

Based on a dead spouse’s lifetime earnings, surviving spouses may also be eligible for Social Security payments.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “spousal and survivors’ benefits play a significant role in assuring women’s retirement security.”

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When should you claim Social Security Spousal Benefits?

You cannot apply for spouse benefits prior to age 62, however you can choose when is the optimum time to do so. You’ll probably experience a reduction in benefits if you choose it before reaching full retirement age and after turning 62.

Moreover, benefits won’t improve if you hold off until after reaching full retirement age. Delaying benefits until age 70 may be advantageous to the income earner, but it will not be advantageous to the spouse who is applying.

One course of action is evident for individuals trying to get the most of their Social Security Spousal Benefits.

Lindsay Malzone, a Medicare specialist at Medigap.com, advises waiting until you are regular retirement age, which ranges from 65 to 67 depending on your birth year, before claiming Social Security retirement benefits as a spouse. If you have not yet reached standard retirement age, you will get a reduced payment, unless you are presently caring for an eligible kid.

Can an Ex-Spouse Claim Social Security Spousal Benefits?

If an ex-spouse has a record of employment, a divorced spouse may be eligible for benefits.

Ex Spouse Claim Social Security Spousal Benefits
Ex-Spouse Claim Social Security Spousal Benefits
  • are entitled to Social Security payments if you are divorced.
  • are single and at least 62 years old. If your ex-spouse has remarried and their new spouse is receiving benefits based on your ex-employment spouse’s history, you are still eligible to receive benefits.
  • were at least ten years married to a Social Security beneficiary when their divorce was completed. If you remarry and then divorce your second husband, as long as both marriages lasted at least ten years, you are eligible to receive benefits from either spouse.
  • are not entitled to the same or more benefits based on your past earnings.

As a surviving divorced spouse, you are eligible to receive benefits as early as age 60 if your ex-spouse has passed away and you are still single. However, you can begin receiving benefits as early as age 50 if your ex-spouse passed away and you become handicapped within seven years of his passing.

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Can a Same-Sex Spouse Get Social Security Spousal Benefits?

Yes, same-sex couples can now get Social Security Spousal Benefits from Social Security in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses can thanks to a 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalised same-sex marriage nationwide.

Prior to this, only same-sex spouses living in states with legal same-sex marriage could get spousal benefits.

How Do Social Security Spousal Benefits Work?

You can get Social Security Spousal Benefits equal to up to 50% of your spouse’s Social Security payment if you qualify for benefits based on your own work history. You cannot have both.

According to the Women’s Institute for a Safe Retirement, “You are immediately entitled to receive whatever benefit affords you the larger monthly amount” (WISER).

Social Security employment benefits are reduced when your spouse starts collecting them before reaching full retirement age. Your benefits will also be reduced if you begin receiving Social Security payments before reaching full retirement age.

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How Spousal Benefits Are Reduced by Age in 2023?

For example, if a worker’s full retirement age is 66, these benefit reductions would affect spouse benefits:

  • At age 62, you’d get 35% of your spouse’s benefits.
  • At age 63, you’d get 37.5% of your spouse’s benefits.
  • At age 64, you’d get 41.7% of your spouse’s benefits.
  • At age 65, you’d get 45.8% of your spouse’s benefits.

The Social Security Administration states that a spouse can retire as early as age 62, although doing so may result in their receiving just 32.5% of their spouse’s Social Security work benefit. For every month before the usual retirement age, up to a maximum of 36 months, the spousal benefit is decreased by 25/36 of 1%. If there are more than 36 months, the benefit is further reduced each month by 5/12 of 1%.

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How to Apply For Social Security Spousal Benefits in 2023?

Use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool, or BEST, provided by the Social Security Administration to determine your eligibility for Social Security spousal payments.

Applying for benefits is completely online at ssa.gov if you are eligible. The system will automatically check your eligibility for spouse benefits when you have finished all the requirements for applying for retirement benefits.

When requesting Social Security Spousal Benefits, you have to:

Know the birthdate of your partner or ex-partner.
Recognize the social security number of your spouse.
Be aware of the time and location of your wedding.
If requested, be prepared to give your marriage certificate as proof by knowing where it is.

Conclusion

Social Security spousal benefits can offer a solid financial foundation for a current or ex-spouse with limited work outside the home. If you’re unclear how these benefits could help you, set up a My Social Security account at SSA.gov or contact your financial planner or financial advisor.

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Frequently asked question about Social Security Spousal Benefits (FAQ)

How Are Social Security Spousal Benefits Calculated?

Social Security spousal benefits are calculated based on the earnings record of the higher-earning spouse.

How Much Is the Social Security Spousal Benefit?

If you are eligible and can qualify, the spousal benefit can be as much as 50% of the higher-earning spouse’s full retirement age benefit.

Who is eligible for spousal Social Security benefits?

In general, you may be eligible if you are married, divorced or widowed and your spouse was eligible for benefits.

How much should you expect to get from spousal benefits?

Spousal benefits are capped at half your spouse’s benefit at full retirement age.

How Do Social Security Spousal Benefits Work?

You are eligible for spousal benefits if you are married, divorced, or widowed and your spouse is or was eligible for Social Security. Spouses and ex-spouses generally are eligible for up to half of the spouse’s entitlement.

What Is the Maximum Spousal Social Security Benefit?

The maximum spousal benefit is 50% of the amount the spouse is eligible to receive at full retirement age.

How Can I Switch From My Social Security Benefit to a Spousal Benefit?

You can only switch from your benefit to the spousal benefit if your spouse has started receiving retirement benefits and you are at least 62 years old (or are caring for a qualifying child).

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