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Social Security Benefits for Married Couples

Being married can have financial benefits when it comes to Social Security. There are many factors to think about before claiming Social Security benefits. Married people can use different strategies to increase their benefits by timing their claims with each other. Your marital status is important to the SSA because you may be entitled to higher payments based on your spouse’s occupation and income. Understanding the full range of benefits you’re eligible to receive will enable you to get the most from your monthly payments.

Maximizing Spousal Social Security Benefits

Did you know, in addition to claiming their own earnings record, a married person can claim their spouse’s earning record also? For people who haven’t worked during their marriage or those with low income, this spousal benefit can be up to 50 percent of the higher earner’s benefits. For families trying to increase their payments, this is a great place to start.

Note that claiming your retirement benefits early can lead to a 25 percent cut of your total benefit, even with your spousal benefit included! It’s important to wait as close to retirement age as you can to ensure you see the most of your social security payments. Any agent at a local social security office will be able to help you optimize your benefits and what you’re entitled to.

Same-Sex Couples

With the passing of Obergefell v Hodges, same-sex couples can marry regardless of the state in which they live. Same-sex couples that are married are eligible for Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Married same-sex couples can claim the same benefits as non-same sex couples for Social Security, including retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivor’s benefits. Unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite sex, are treated as individuals. However, there are some non-marital relationships that still receive benefits, similar to marriage. Some of these non-marital relationships include civil unions, domestic partnerships, designated beneficiaries, and reciprocal beneficiaries.

How Changes In Marriage Affect Social Security

Oftentimes people receiving Social Security benefits will have changes in their marriage affect their income. If your spouse passes away or you get a divorce, understand that you are legally entitled to social security benefits that person may have. Updating your Social Security record is your responsibility, even if you get a simple name change! When you’re going to apply for social security benefits, it’s important to not let mistakes like this affect your chances of receiving your benefits.

Death Of A Spouse

The survivor benefit provides a way to transfer social security benefits from someone who has died. If your spouse has passed away, you could be eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on their income. Even if there was a divorce, if nobody has claimed the benefits they are available to the widow or widower. Widow and widowers have full access to social security benefits at age 66 and can receive partial benefits sooner. Children are also eligible to receive benefits if they are under the age of 18.


If a couple is married for 10 years or more, spouses can receive benefits based on the earnings of their former spouse if they are 62 years old and unmarried at the time of the claim. If you have remarried, you can’t claim benefits from your former spouse, unless your current marriage has ended. Your benefits as the divorced spouse are equal to 50% of their full retirement amount if you start to receive benefits at the Full Retirement Age (FRA). Benefits don’t include any delayed retirement credits.


If you are getting married again, there may be some changes to your Social Security, disability, and retirement benefits. If you are receiving SSI benefits, your spouse’s income may change your benefit income. If you are both receiving SSI benefits, then your benefit amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate. If you are currently receiving benefits as a widow, or you are divorced, then you don’t receive benefits if you remarry before age 60.

For disability benefits, the cutoff to remarry is age 50. If you remarry before that age, you don’t receive the survivor’s benefits unless the marriage ends. If the marriage ends, you may be entitled or re-entitled to the benefits. Generally, if you are receiving benefits from your divorced spouse and you remarry, your benefits end.

New Married Name

If you are legally changing your name when you get married, you will have to change the name on your Social Security card. You need to tell your employer your new name so that you can keep track of your earnings and add it to your Social Security record. This is part of taking care of your Social Security record, so you don’t have a delay before receiving your benefits when you retire.


What is Spousal Social Security Benefit?

Spousal social security benefits come from differences in wages when in a legal relationship. The lower earner is entitled to a portion of their spouse’s earning record. This benefit can be up to 50 percent of their total retirement payout.

When Can I Get Spousal Benefits?

It’s incredibly important to wait until you are 62 years old to claim any retirement benefits. Claiming benefits early can lead to a 25 percent reduction in total payout, and this includes and spousal benefits that have been claimed.

How Do I Qualify For Spousal Benefits?

Qualifying for spousal benefits is determined by the earning record of you and your spouse. Whoever is the lowest earner will be entitled to social security benefits once they come to that age.

When Can A Spouse Claim Spousal Benefits?

There are many instances when spouses can claim benefits on their marital earning record. Some people choose to if they become disabled and unable to work. These benefits can be claimed at age 50 and added to any current social security income they may be receiving.

Can I Use My Spouse’s Social Security Benefits?

Yes. If your spouse has claimed their social security benefits for themselves, when you are at the full retirement age of 62, you will be able to claim a portion of their benefits depending on your own personal income record.

Elliot Marks

Elliot Marks

Elliot has spent years providing clear and concise information to help navigate the complex nuances of social security and many other government services in the United States. Elliot has a passion for helping those in need of these services to be able to find timely access to news and information that is relevant and helpful to their daily lives.