What is the actual value of a spouse’s Social Security benefits? | personal financing
When you think of Social Security, you probably think of retired workers, but there are a lot of people who claim benefits despite not having worked in their lives. As long as you are married to a qualified worker, you can receive spousal Social Security benefit.
But it may not go as far as you expect. Here’s how to find out what you might get.
What is Social Security marital benefit?
Social Security Spouse Benefit is a monthly benefit available to the spouse of an eligible Social Security worker. Ex-spouses can also qualify for spousal benefits if they have been married to the worker for at least 10 years and have not remarried.
Up to 50% of a worker’s benefit at full retirement age (FRA). That’s somewhere between the ages of 66 and 67 for today’s workers. So, for example, if a worker qualifies for a $2,000 monthly benefit at full retirement age, the maximum spouse benefit would be $1,000 in the spouse’s FRA.
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But you may end up with less money if you claim benefits before your HR assessment. Each month you claim benefits while under your FRA, your checks shrink, and if you sign up once you qualify at age 62, you can get 30% to 35% less per check.
You cannot claim spousal benefit until your spouse has already made a claim. If you are divorced and plan to claim spousal benefits on your ex’s work history, there is no need to wait for them to register. But you need to be divorced for at least two years if you plan to claim before that.
What is the value of the spousal benefit from Social Security?
The average spousal benefit of Social Security as of May 2022 is $743.24 per month. This adds up to about $8,919 annually. On its own, this wouldn’t go very far. But remember that workers who claim this type of benefit also have a spouse who receives their Social Security checks based on their work history, and their accounts are larger. So the couple will get a little more from the program overall.
If you want an idea of how much you will get from your spousal Social Security benefit, your spouse should create my Social Security Account, where there is a calculator that can help them calculate the type of benefit you will receive at different claim ages. Or, if you have an estimate of your spouse’s FRA benefits, you can create and connect my Social Security account to see how much your spouse might be worth.
Can you increase your marital benefit?
You can benefit more from Social Security if you are not satisfied with your spousal benefit, but your options are limited. The primary way to do this is to delay benefits, ideally until your FRA. This is when you qualify for the greatest possible spousal benefit. But this may not be a wise move if you do not expect to live long. In this case, you must register as soon as you become eligible at age 62 and claim benefits for as long as possible.
The only other thing you can do to boost your Social Security benefits is work long enough to qualify for a greater benefit per se. You must earn at least 40 credits to qualify for Social Security. One credit equals $1,510 in earnings in 2022, and you can earn a maximum of four credits annually.
Your Social Security benefits are based on your average monthly earnings, adjusted for inflation, over your 35 years of higher income, so you should strive to work at least that long. Otherwise, you’ll have years of zero income in this mix that weighs heavily on your benefit.
If you qualify for Social Security on your own, you can still qualify for a spousal benefit if the spousal benefit is worth more than your own benefit. The Social Security Administration automatically gives you the higher amount. But again, you can’t claim a husband’s allowance until your wife subscribes.
Even if you’ve been away from claiming Social Security for a few decades, it’s helpful to start thinking about these things now so you can take steps to advance your interest and get a more accurate idea of how much you need to save for retirement.
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