Social Security Retirement Benefits and Your Marriage

Both the husband and wife will get Social Security Retirement Benefits in their retirement years, even if only one has qualified for Social Security.

If both qualify for benefits, they draw their own benefits.

If one spouse (usually the wife as she's worked less years after staying home with the kids) has a benefit less than half of the other benefit, they get a increased benefit. You will either draw your own benefit or 50% of your spouse benefit, whichever is greater.

Even if the non-working spouse has not qualified for Social Security payments, they will still get a payment based on a percentage of the working spouses payment. Everyone gets an "old age" Social Security payments. The spouses benefit does not affect the workers benefit.. there is no reduction just because a spouse will also draw a benefit from the same worker.

Social Security and Divorce

Ex-spouses can draw a benefit from their former spouse (if they were married at least ten years), and this benefit does not affect the ex-spouses benefit. There is no reduction to the person who actually earned the benefit... don't worry!

Sometimes the working spouse (usually the man) threatens to divorce and leave the wife without a Social Security benefit. Impossible! I just want you to know that even if you never worked, taking care of the home and kids, you will still receive a Social Security benefit (assuming you were married ten years).Your spouse cannot take that away from you, it is not negotiable in the divorce settlement (like the pension is). OK?

Survivor benefit: Spouse pre-deceased you.

If your spouse has pre-deceased you, read about the Social Security Survivor benefit.

What if you never married but lived together for years?

There is a possibility you can still get a benefit if your state is a common-law state. You will need lots of documentation to prove you've been partners for many years: mortgage documents or rent receipts, bank or insurance documents, etc.

There are only a few states that allow common law marriages and eligibility differs between them: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia (if created before 1/1/97), Idaho (if created before 1/1/96), Iowa, Kansas, Montana, ew Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Ohio (if created before 10/10/91), Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98.), Pennsylvania (if created before 1/1/05), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington, D.C.

Early Retirement of the Main Wage Earner

More than 40% of women depend on Social Security for their income... many more women depend on only Social Security - and it hurts them to live on this income. If the man was the main wage earner (as is the case in most households), and he dies first, her lifetime income is the reduced early retirement Social Security benefit.

More on the Social Security Application for Retirement Benefits here!