Benefits For Family Members

If you are getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family also can receive benefits, including:

  • Spouses who are age 62 or older;
  • Spouses who are younger than 62, if they are taking care of a child entitled on your record who is younger than age 16 or disabled;
  • Former spouses, if they are age 62 or older;
  • Children up to age 18, or up to 19 if they are full-time students who have not yet graduated from high school; and
  • Disabled children, even if they are age 18 or older.

If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving benefits, the child may also be eligible for benefits.

Spouse’s Benefits

A spouse who has not worked or who has low earnings can be entitled to as much as one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit. If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.

If you have reached your full retirement age, and are eligible for a spouse’s or ex-spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you may choose to receive only spouse’s benefits and continue accruing delayed retirement credits on your own Social Security record. You then may file for benefits later and receive a higher monthly benefit based on the effect of delayed retirement credits.

If you are receiving a pension based on work where you did not pay Social Security taxes, your spouse’s benefit may be reduced.

If spouses want to get Social Security retirement benefits before they reach full retirement age, the amount of the benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when the person reaches full retirement age.

For example:

  • If full retirement age is 65, a spouse can get 37.5 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62;
  • If full retirement age is 66, a spouse can get 35 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62;
  • If full retirement age is 67, a spouse can get 32.5 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62.

The amount of the benefit increases at later ages up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. If full retirement age is other than those shown here the amount of the benefit will fall between 32.5 percent and 37.5 percent at age 62.

However, if your spouse is taking care of a child who is under age 16 or disabled and gets Social Security benefits on your record, your spouse gets full benefits, regardless of age.

Maximum Family Benefits
If you have children eligible for Social Security, each will receive up to one-half of your full benefit. But there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to you and your family—usually 150-180 percent of your own benefit payment. If the total benefits due to your spouse and children are more than this limit, their benefits will be reduced. Your benefit will not be affected.

Benefits For A Divorced Spouse

Your divorced spouse can get benefits on your Social Security record if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. Your divorced spouse must be 62 or older and unmarried.

The amount of benefits he or she gets has no effect on the amount of benefits you or your current spouse can get.

Also, if you and your ex-spouse have been divorced for at least two years and you and your ex-spouse are at least 62, he or she can get benefits even if you are not retired.



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Complete Social Security information can be found at the official U.S. government Social Security site