Many people don't know they can collect Social Security spousal benefits. Eligibility depends on a number of factors, including your spouse's work history, your age and your work history, but if you qualify, you can collect an amount up to one-half of your spouse's retirement benefit.
Survivor's Benefits vs. Spousal Benefits
If your spouse is deceased, the benefits you collect on his work record are called "Survivor's Benefits," not "Spousal Benefits." The eligibility rules are the same.
Age of Retirement
You can collect partial spousal Social Security benefits when you turn 62, but to collect in full, you have to be of retirement age (between 65 and 67).
Spousal Benefit Amount
If your own Social Security retirement benefit is more than your spouse's, you'll receive it. If his benefit is higher, you'll get a combination of your benefit and spousal benefits.
Retirement and Spousal Benefits
Your spouse doesn't need to be retired for you to collect; he can apply for retirement benefits, ask for the payments to be suspended, go back to work and collect delayed retirement credits, and you will still receive the spousal benefit.
Divorced Spouse Entitlement
You can collect spousal benefits even after divorce, provided your ex-spouse qualifies for a Social Security benefit higher than your own. If you were married for at least 10 years, are at least 62 years old, and not currently remarried, you can apply.
Amanda Morin served as a kindergarten teacher and early intervention specialist for 10 years, working with special-needs children and teaching parenting classes. Since becoming a freelance writer, she has written for a number of publications, including Education.com, the Maine Department of Education, ModernMom and others. Morin holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Maine, Orono.