10 Things you may not know about Social Security

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age.

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefits.

Ex-Spouse Benefits

A person can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if he or she:

  • Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years;
  • Is at least age 62 years old;
  • Is unmarried; and
  • Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

In addition, the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own retirement or disability benefit. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit if he or she meets the eligibility requirements above and has been divorced from the former spouse for at least two years.

Children receiving benefits

When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your unmarried children also may qualify to receive benefits on your record. Eligible children can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.
To receive benefits, your unmarried child must be:

  • Younger than age 18;
  • Between 18-19 years old, but in elementary or secondary school full time;
  • A full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • Age 18 or older and severely disabled (the disability must have started before age 22

Taxes and Social Security Benefits

You will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.

If you make more than that you’ll pay income taxes on a portion of your benefits, and that portion rises as your income does.

  • Individuals with income of $25,000 to $34,000 and couples with income of $32,000 to $44,000 may have to pay taxes on half their benefits.
  • Individuals with income of more than $34,000 and couples with income of more than $44,000 may have to pay taxes on 85% of their benefits.

Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit. Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits. However, you should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.

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  1. You might also want to mention the Survivor Benefits for those who are widowed.

  2. You explained that a divorced spouse can apply for spousal benefits even if the former spouse has not yet applied for benefits.

    Is that the same if a married spouse files for spousal benefits of a spouse who is over 65 but who has put off filing for benefits until she is 70?

    My husband is 5 years younger than I. WHen I turn 70, he will be 65. The plan is for me to apply for SS benefits when I turn 70, while he files for spousal benefits until he is 70.

    My question is, what if I die before I turn 70 and apply for benefits? Will my spouse be able to apply for spousal benefits when he is 65 even if I didn’t live long enough to apply at 70 (but am over 65 of course)?

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