How Long Must You Be Married To Be Eligible For Spousal Benefits?

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Jul 29 2020 - 9:29am

How long do you have to be married to be eligible for spousal benefits?

My spouse has worked contract labor mostly (cash) would be eligible for social security at 62/65?

Hi,

You must normally be married for at least a year before you can be eligible for spousal benefits. However, there are exceptions (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-0305.html) that can permit a spouse to qualify for spousal benefits sooner than their first anniversary.

In order for you to be eligible for spousal benefits, though, your spouse would have to be drawing either Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits or Social Security retirement benefits. Your spouse must have at least 40 quarters of Social Security credits in order to potentially be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/QC.html).

If you were born after January 1 1954, you couldn't file for spousal benefits without filing for your own Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. In that case you could only be paid essentially the higher of your own benefit rate or your spousal rate, and your rate would be reduced for age if you start drawing prior to full retirement age (FRA).

Best, Jerry