Can I Get A Spousal Benefit If I'm Still Working And Separated From My Husband?

Jul 17 2019 - 10:06pm

I will be 66 years old this October and I am still working and not ready to retire yet. I plan to keep working for the next 11/2 to 2 years and don't want to apply for Social Security until I am ready to retire. My husband is 68 years old and retired last year and is collecting Social Security. We have been married for 32 years but have been separated for the last 2 years now. Divorce is in the future but I don't want to pursue that yet until I figure out my rights for spousal benefits. Can I get a spousal benefit from him if I am still working and still married but separated from him? From what I have read and understand, if we were to get divorced before I start receiving spousal benefits then I would have to wait for 2 years after the divorce. Am I correct? If we decide to get divorce after I start collecting the spousal benefits, what happens to my spousal benefit? Does it change? I want to be able to collect spousal benefit if I am eligible until I retire or remarry. I have an appointment with SSA next month and want to know the facts and my rights before I go. -Thanks


Yes, you can potentially qualify for spousal benefits even if you're separated from your spouse. And, since you were born prior to January 2 1954 and your husband is drawing his benefits, you could file just for spousal benefits only starting with the month you reach full retirement age (FRA) while allowing your own benefit rate to grow until age 70. There is no limit on the amount that you can earn and still draw benefits once you reach FRA.

If you start out drawing spousal benefits and you later get divorced, your benefits would continue as a divorced spouse as long as your marriage lasted for at least 10 years and as long as you don't remarry. If you divorce prior to filing for spousal benefits you would not have to wait 2 years to claim divorced spousal benefits as long as your husband is already drawing his benefits. Changing from spousal to divorced spousal benefits wouldn't change your benefit rate.

It sounds like you have a number of potential filing options to consider, so you should strongly consider using our software ( to explore and compare your options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry