Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be able to get spouse’s retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years of age and your spouse or ex-spouse is receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. You can also qualify for Medicare at age 65.

Note: For information on further requirements for Divorced Spouse's Benefits, read "If You Are Divorced."

You can receive the spouse's benefit no matter what your age is if you are caring for his or her child who is also receiving benefits.

How Much Will I Receive?

If you are under full retirement age and qualify on your own record, we will pay you that amount first. But if you also qualify for a higher amount as a spouse, you'll get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount.

If you begin receiving benefits:

  • between age 62 and your full retirement age, the amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months up to your full retirement age.

    If you are under full retirement age and you continue to work while receiving benefits, your benefits may be affected by the retirement earnings test.

  • at your full retirement age, your benefit can be equal to one-half of your spouse’s full retirement amount.

    Note: Your benefits as a spouse do not include any delayed retirement credits your spouse may receive.

    If you and your spouse are full retirement age, the two of you may have an additional option for when to start receiving benefits.

If you will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security such as government or foreign employment, the amount of your Social Security benefits on your spouse's record may be reduced.

Benefits paid to you as a spouse will not decrease your spouse’s retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits you may receive, added to their benefits, may help your spouse decide if taking benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

Maximum Family Benefits

If one of your spouse's children also qualifies for benefits, there is a limit to the amount we can pay family members.

The total depends on your spouse's benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on the same record. The total varies, but generally the total amount the worker (your spouse) and their family members can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of the worker's full retirement benefit.

Note: If there is a divorced spouse who also qualifies for benefits, he or she will not affect the total amount of benefits you or your family may receive.

If You Or Your Current Spouse Are Full Retirement Age

If you or your spouse are full retirement age, you may have some additional options.

If your current spouse is full retirement age, he or she can apply for retirement benefits and then request to have payments suspended. That way, you can receive spouse's benefits and he or she can continue to earn delayed retirement credits until age 70.

Note: Only one member of a couple can apply for retirement benefits and have payments suspended so his or her current spouse can collect benefits.

If you have reached full retirement age, and you are:

  • eligible for a spouse's benefit and your own retirement benefit, you may choose to receive only spouse's benefits.
  • eligible for an ex-spouse's benefit and your own retirement, you may choose to receive only the ex-spouse's benefit. Your ex-spouse needs to be 62 but he or she does not have to have filed for benefits.

If you do that, you can delay applying for your own retirement benefits until a later date to take advantage of delayed retirement credits.

Note: If both you and your current spouse are full retirement age, only one of you can choose to receive spouse's benefits now and delay receiving your own retirement benefits until a later date.

Ex-spouses who are full retirement age may both file on each other’s record and delay filing on their own retirement record to earn delayed retirement credits.

How Do I Apply?

You can apply:

If your spouse is already receiving benefits when you apply, or if you and your spouse apply at the same time, we will also check your eligibility for benefits as a spouse. If you qualify, your application will also automatically serve as a request for spousal benefits.