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Social Security Spouse and Ex-Spouse Benefits


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If you are the spouse or ex-spouse of a worker who receives Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, you may be eligible for benefits because of your relationship to the worker even if the worker is deceased. This is in addition to any Social Security benefits to which you may be entitled in your own right.


As a spouse or ex-spouse, you are not eligible for benefits merely because of your marriage. The worker must receive (or have received if he or she is deceased) SSDI.

You are also eligible to receive benefits, including Social Security Disability Income, if:

  • Your spouse is receiving Social Security Retirement Income (SSR) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) income
  • If your spouse is deceased, and you were married at the date of his or her death, and he or she received SSR or SSDI before his or her death. 
  • You are age 62 or older or you are the spouse, and taking care of a child of you and your spouse and the child is under age 16 or is disabled.
  • The fact that spouse in question could be "disabled" doesn't count unless he or she is applying for his or her own benefits..

If a spouse is eligible for a retirement benefit based on his or her own earnings, and if that benefit is higher than the spousal benefit, then Social Security pays the retirement benefit. Otherwise Social Security pays the spousal benefit.

There is a limit to the amount of money payable to a family each month.

Start the sign-up process by calling Social Security. You can file an appeal if you are turned down.


As the divorced spouse of a worker receiving retirement or disability benefits, you can get benefits on your former spouse's Social Security record if you satisfy each of the following requirements. You:

  • Were married to the worker for at least 10 years.
  • Are at least 62 years old.
  • Remain unmarried.
  • Are not eligible for an equal or higher benefit on your own Social Security record or on someone else's Social Security record.

NOTE: The amount of benefits payable to the ex-spouse has no effect on the amount of benefits you may receive as a spouse or child and does not affect the Maximum Family Benefit (above).

Amount of Benefit

As the spouse of an eligible worker you can receive one-half (50%) of the worker's full benefit unless you begin collecting benefits before age 65, or the worker's Full Retirement Age for purposes of SSR, if later.(For a definition of "Full Retirement Age" see Security Retirement.) In that case, the amount of your benefit is permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months between the time you apply for the benefit and the time you will reach age Full Retirement Age. For example, if you begin collecting benefits at age 64, the benefit amount would be about 46% of the worker's full benefit. At age 63, it would be about 42% and at age 62, 37.5%.

If you care for a Child

You will receive full benefits, regardless of your age, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or of a child who is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. The benefits will end the month before the youngest child turns 16, although the child will continue receiving benefits until age 18.

Dual Eligibility

If you're eligible for both your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, you will get your own benefit first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your own retirement benefit, you'll get a combination of benefits equaling the higher benefit. For Example: Mary Ann qualifies for a retirement benefit of $250 and a spouse's benefit of $400. At age 65, she will receive her own $250 retirement benefit and Social Security will add $150 from her spousal benefit, for a total of $400. If she takes her retirement benefit at any time before she turns 65, both amounts will be reduced.

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