October 1, 2019

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY | Rock Island, Illinois Office

By Cristina Vital
Social Security Manager
Rock Island Social Security Office

UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL SECURITY SPOUSES’ BENEFITS

Marriage is a tradition that exists on every continent and in nearly every country. Having a partner not only means
creating a family unit, it means sharing things like a home and other property. Understanding how your future retirement might affect your spouse is important. When you’re planning for your retirement, here are a few things to remember:

Your spouse’s benefit amount could be up to 50 percent of your spouse’s full retirement age amount, if you are full retirement age when you take it. If you qualify for a benefit from your own work history and a spouse’s record, we always pay your own benefit first. You cannot receive spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving his or her retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses). If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, when you add spouse’s benefits later, your own retirement portion remains reduced, which causes the total retirement and spouses benefit together to total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more about this at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

On the other hand, if your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If the deceased worker started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to the surviving spouse. The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive. Generally, the limit is the higher of:

  • The reduced monthly retirement benefit to which the deceased spouse would have been entitled if they had lived, or
  • 82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Knowing how your finances affect your spouse’s benefit can help both of you avoid future impacts on your incomes. We have decades of experience, and the information to go with it. Access a wealth of useful information and use our benefits planners at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners.

SOCIAL SECURITY COVERS DISABLED CHILDREN

Children are our future — we share our knowledge and talent with them — we pass on our values to them knowing they will share those gifts. Social Security safeguards children all year long, but we’d like to take this opportunity to share information about our programs that provide direct support to children.

The latest information available says that in 2018 the Social Security program distributed about $2.7 billion each month to benefit about 4.1 million children on average each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. Those dollars help to provide the necessities of life for family members and help make it possible for those children to complete high school. When a working parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help stabilize the family’s financial future.

Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. The Social Security Administration is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is separate from the Social Security program. To
qualify for SSI:

  • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities; and
  • The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death.

If the parents of the child or children have more income or resources than are allowed, then the child or children will not qualify for SSI. You can read more about children’s benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf.

Social Security and SSI also cover many chronic illnesses and conditions. The Compassionate Allowances program is a way to quickly identify people with diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet the standards for disability benefits under the Social Security and SSI programs. Thousands of children receive SSI benefits because they have one of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.

Keep in mind, Social Security and SSI are two very distinct and separate programs, and eligibility for each is different.

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Social Security is with you and your children throughout your life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow. If you know a family who needs our help, please share these resources with them.

Filed Under: Finance, Retirement