Social Security is one of the most significant safety nets in American society. The program was enacted more than 85 years ago, and it still remains a crucial source of income for many Americans during their retirement years. Social Security provides benefits to individuals who have paid into the program through payroll taxes, allowing retirees to maintain a certain standard of living in their golden years.
One important aspect of Social Security is the spousal benefit. This benefit has been in place since the program’s inception and is designed to provide assistance to the spouses of retired workers. The spousal benefit is available to current spouses who are at least 62 years old, as well as widows or widowers who are at least 60 years old.
The history of the spousal benefit dates back to the 1930s. In those days, it was common for women to forego careers in favor of raising children and managing households. As a result, many women did not have enough time in the workforce to qualify for their own Social Security benefits. To address this issue, Congress created the spousal benefit, enabling these women to receive a portion of their husband’s Social Security benefits.
Today, the spousal benefit is available to both men and women, regardless of their employment history. Under the program, you can choose to receive either your own Social Security benefit or half of your spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher.
For example, let’s say that a retiree’s Social Security benefit would be $1,200 per month. Meanwhile, their spouse’s benefit would be $2,800 per month. In this scenario, the retiree would be eligible to receive $1,400 per month (half of their spouse’s benefit) instead of the $1,200 they would have received on their own at full retirement age (FRA).
Ultimately, the spousal benefit is a valuable tool for couples to optimize their Social Security benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain rules and restrictions associated with this program, and individuals should carefully consider the potential effects of claiming spousal benefits instead of their own. It is always advisable to speak with a qualified Social Security expert to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits available.