Spouses, divorcees, and children are also entitled to Social Security benefits. Here's how it works.
- Once a worker begins collecting Social Security benefits, their spouse, ex-spouse, and dependents may be eligible for benefits too.
- Married people and divorcées will typically receive Social Security benefits equal to the greater of their own benefit if they worked at least 10 years or up to 50% of their spouse or ex-spouse's benefit.
- A biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild can also receive up to 50% of their parent's Social Security benefit at full retirement age.
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Social Security makes up the bulk of income for millions of retired Americans, and the government may pay out even more if you're married, divorced, or have dependents.
Those who have worked for at least 10 years can begin claiming 100% of their Social Security benefit between ages 66 and 67, depending on when they were born. The earliest you can claim benefits is age 62, but the monthly payout will be permanently reduced.A worker's Social Security benefit is equal to an average of monthly wages for the 35 highest-earning working years, adjusted for inflation. In 2019, the maximum benefit for a person claiming Social Security at their full retirement age is $2,861 a month.
Once a worker begins collecting Social Security, their spouse, ex-spouse, and any children under age 19 who are in school or over age 18 and disabled are also entitled to benefits. Any benefits received by their relatives will not reduce the amount the worker receives, although there are maximum limits for families.
How much Social Security can spouses get?
When a married person claims Social Security benefits, they will either receive their own benefit based on their working history or up to 50% of their spouse's benefit, whichever is greater.
To receive the maximum Social Security spousal benefit, a person must reach their full retirement age, not be earning income from a job, and be married to someone who is receiving a Social Security benefit greater than the amount they are eligible for. In this case, the lower-earning spouse can receive exactly half of their partner's benefit in perpetuity.
If they have not yet reached their full retirement age (but are older than 62) and wish to begin claiming benefits as soon as their spouse is eligible, their monthly payout will be reduced below 50% of their spouse's.
Divorcées who were married to the worker for at least 10 years, have not remarried, and are at least 62 years old can also claim half of the full retirement amount of their ex-spouse, but they don't have to wait for their former spouse to claim benefits if they've been divorced for at least two years. Any amount of Social Security claimed by an ex-spouse will have no effect on the amount a current spouse can claim.While delaying Social Security will incrementally increase benefits for the worker up until age 70, the largest possible monthly benefit for a spouse or ex-spouse is always 50% of the worker's benefit amount at their full retirement age - there are no increases for spousal benefits when the worker delays claiming their own benefit.
How much Social Security can dependents get?
A biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild can also receive Social Security benefits from a guardian who is already claiming their benefits.
The dependent can receive up to 50% of the worker's full retirement benefit as long as they are unmarried; under age 18; between age 18 and 19 and also a full-time student; or over age 18 but disabled.
The Social Security Administration does impose a maximum family benefit, however, which usually will come i to play if more than one child is claiming benefits. Typically, the total payout limit for families is between 150% and 180% of the primary worker's full retirement benefit.
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