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Spouse Has Few or No Social Security Credits

Question: My wife and I are nearly 62. She worked little during our long marriage and does not have enough credits to qualify on her own. If I elect to collect Social Security at 62, will my wife receive any benefits, or will we just get my benefit?

Answer: It is not a requirement for her to have earned her own credits in order for her to receive Social Security benefits. Though your wife would not qualify on her own record without the 40 credits, she can still receive benefits on your record.

She is eligible for spouse's benefits on your record. She would be entitled to a percentage of your full benefit amount as early as 62. Her benefit as a wife would be equal to nearly one-third of your full benefit at 62, and it would increase depending on her age at the time she applies for the benefit.

The most she can receive as your wife is half your full benefit amount, but she would have to wait until she reaches her full retirement age to apply. If she was born between 1943 and 1954, her full retirement age is 66.

Any benefit she receives as a wife on your record would not reduce your own benefit amount at all.

There is one other stipulation. She cannot receive a wife's benefit on your record until you decide to start receiving your own benefit. In addition, she would also be eligible for a widow's benefit on your record as early as 60. The benefit amount would be equal to 71.5 percent of your full benefit amount. It would increase based on her age at the time she applies for the widow's benefit.

For more information, search at  www.socialsecurity.gov/


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