Spousal benefits via a husband or wife. Spouses can get up to half of their husband’s or wife’s monthly benefit. Even stay-at-home spouses without their own work history can claim benefits with this method. You can start claiming spousal benefits as early as age 62. However, benefits are reduced if payments begin before your full retirement age. If you are entitled to your own benefits, as well as spousal benefits, you will get an amount equal to whichever benefit level is greater.
Spousal benefits via an ex-spouse. Even if you are divorced, you may be entitled to get spousal benefits. However, all of the following must apply to your situation:
Your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits;
You were married at least 10 years to your ex-spouse;
You are currently unmarried; and
You are at least 62 years old.
The benefit that you are entitled to get based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. Claiming spousal benefits as a divorced person does not impact your ex’s benefit amount. It also does not affect any benefits their current spouse can receive, if they have remarried.
Survivor’s benefits for widows and widowers. If your spouse dies, you may still be able to receive up to 100% of their Social Security retirement benefits. Divorced spouses may also be able to get survivor’s benefits, if they were married for at least 10 years and are now unmarried. Most widows and widowers can begin claiming survivor’s benefits as early as age 60. Those who have a disability and became disabled prior to or within seven years of their spouse’s death can start benefits as early as age 50. In addition, widows and widowers of any age can get survivor’s benefits, if they are caring for a deceased worker’s child who’s younger than age 16 or disabled.
Survivor’s benefits for children. Children can get payments from a deceased parent’s record as well. Survivor’s benefits are available to children up to age 18 (or 19 for if attending elementary or secondary school full-time) These benefits may extend beyond that, if a child becomes disabled and remains disabled before age 22. Depending on the circumstances, grandchildren and stepchildren may also be eligible for these benefits.
Parent’s benefits. Parents who depended on their children for financial support may be eligible to get benefits from Social Security if that child dies. To be eligible , you have to meet a number of criteria, including the following:
The deceased worker must have sufficient work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits;
You must be at least age 62 and, in most cases, cannot be married after the worker’s death;
You must have received at least half of your support from the deceased worker at certain points in time;
You were the natural parent or became the legal adoptive parent or stepparent prior to the worker turning 16 years old; and
You are not eligible for a retirement benefit from Social Security that exceeds the parent’s benefit.
Disability benefits. To get monthly benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program you must have a work history that makes you eligible for Social Security and be unable to work now because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least a year or end in death.
Supplemental Security Income. These benefits do not come from Social Security taxes, but rather the program uses general tax dollars to provide benefits to adults and children with disabilities, blindness, or limited income and resources. The SSI program is designed to provide cash assistance for basic needs, such as food, clothing and housing. Because it is funded by general tax revenue, there is no work history requirement to receive these benefits.