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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

When is a spouse entitled to spouse's insurance benefits on the worker's Social Security record?


305. When is a spouse entitled to spouse's insurance benefits on the worker's Social Security record?

As the spouse of an insured worker, you are entitled to spouse's insurance benefits if you meet the conditions below:

  1. The worker is entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits;

  2. You have filed an application for spouse's benefits;

  3. You are not entitled to a retirement or disability insurance benefit based on a primary insurance amount which equals or exceeds one-half the worker's primary insurance amount;

  4. You either:

    1. Are age 62 or over; or

    2. Have in care a child under age 16 or disabled who is entitled to benefits on the worker's Social Security record; and

  5. You meet one of the following conditions:

    1. You have been married to the worker for at least one continuous year just before he or she filed the application for benefits;

    2. You are the natural mother or father of the worker's biological son or daughter. This requirement is met if a live child was born to you and the worker. The child need not be living when you apply for benefits;

    3. You were entitled or "potentially" entitled to spouse's (including deemed or divorced spouse's), widow(er)'s (including deemed widow(er)'s or surviving divorced spouse's), parent's, or childhood disability benefits based on the record of a fully insured individual under the Social Security Act in the month before the month you married the worker. You are "potentially entitled" if you meet all the requirements for entitlement other than filing of an application, and (in the case of spouse's, widow(er)'s, or parent's benefits) attaining the required age; or

    4. You were entitled or potentially entitled to a widow(er)'s, parent's, or child's (age 18 or over) annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act in the month before the month you married the worker.

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008

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Survivors with child under the age of 16?

August 29, 2008 by Guest

Why does the parents payments stop when the child reaches the age of 16? Why not the age of 18?

older then husband+

September 15, 2008 by Guest

i am 13 years older then my husband , do i still get some of his income even though i retire before him?

wife took retirement benefit

September 16, 2008 by Guest

wife took retirement benefit at age 62 which is less than 50% of my benefit she is now 67 and i am 68 . should her benefit have increased?

New Spouse Benefit

March 5, 2009 by Guest

If your husband received a widower's survival benefit and remarries after age 60, will the new wife be entitled to his social security when she becomes of age, or will she have to take her own?

multiple marriages and SS

June 19, 2010 by Guest

Is it correct that my husband's ex-wife will also be potentially eligible for his SS benefits? His first marriage lasted over 10 years and we have been married twelve, so far.

Social Security benefits for divorced spouse

June 20, 2010 by David Luhman

Yes, in general a former spouse who was married to an eligible beneficiary for at least 10 years will qualify for benefits based on the former spouse's record.

See here for details :

multiple marriages and SS

June 28, 2010 by Guest

Thank you for your input of above. Provided that both my husband's former spouse and I could be eligible for his SS benefits, does this mean that we 'share' his benefits? That is, how would benefits be computed if both of us are in the category that our work history is less than husband's?

Information needed to receive benefits

June 30, 2010 by Guest

I have been divorced from my ex-husband for 30yrs and now am trying to collect social security at his rate as we were married for 12yrs. I no longer have contact with him and need a copy of his birth certificate. I cannot get this without his mothers maiden name and place of birth! Is there a way around this as I don't even think I knew this information when we were married and have no idea how to obtain now. Thanks

Effect of multiple spouses on a record

July 4, 2010 by David Luhman

A former spouse can receive benefits under the same circumstances as a current spouse or widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse will not affect the benefit rates for other beneficiaries.

Documents needed to apply for divorced spouse benefits

July 4, 2010 by David Luhman

Here is a link which indicates documents needed to apply for divorced spouse benefits. It indicates the following are needed :

- Final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse
- Marriage certificate
- Your birth certificate

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