Q&A: Social Security spousal benefits

Dear Liz: I qualified for Social Security and receive a benefit. My wife did not work long enough to get a benefit, yet she receives a small amount each month. What is this from? What happens to it at her death?

Answer: Her benefit is probably a spousal benefit, which is based on your work record. Spousal benefits can be up to 50% of what you would have received at full retirement age. If she started benefits before her own full retirement age, the amount would be reduced to reflect that early start. Her benefit will go away when one of you dies, and the survivor will receive an amount equal to your benefit.



    I am 75 and do not qualify for a Social Security benefit but my spouse who is 67 is receiving a partial benefit as well as a pension from teaching. We married 2 years ago.
    Can I qualify for a spousal benefit? ( I also receive a pension).

    • Possibly. Your spousal benefit may be offset partly or entirely if the pension came from a job that didn’t pay into Social Security. You can contact the agency at 1 (800) 772-1213 to ask what you might receive.