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Spousal Benefits

Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be able to get spouse's retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years of age and your spouse or ex-spouse is receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. You can also qualify for Medicare at age 65.

When a worker files for retirement benefits, the worker's spouse may be eligible for a benefit based on the worker's earnings. Another requirement is that the spouse must be at least age 62 or have a qualifying child in her/his care.

The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit. However, if a spouse is caring for a qualifying child, the spousal benefit is not reduced.

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 will pay the retirement benefit. Otherwise they will pay the spousal benefit.

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