How does my spousal Social Security benefit work?

Social Security
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December 2016
84% of people found this answer helpful

Hi! The Investopedia answer is great. Let me also add that if your spouse passes away, you would get his/her full amount (instead of your lower amount or half of his/her amount). So let's imagine that David and Michelle are married. They wait until they are 70 years old to claim their Social Security. David earned more over his lifetime than Michelle and so he paid more into the system and has a high monthly benefit of $2,200. Michelle stayed home with the kids and worked at lower paying jobs, so her monthly benefit is $700. While David is alive, he gets $2,200 per month and Michelle gets half of that (or $1,100), which is more than her $700. So each month, they have $2,200 + $1,100 or $3,300 in Social Security benefits. Let's say that David dies. Michelle gets a $255 death benefit, and then going forward, she gets David's full amount of $2,200. She still has less cash flow coming into the home because she is NOT getting her amount PLUS David's amount, but she is entitled to David's full amount of $2200 after his death, which is better than her $700 or half of his $1,100. Hope this explanation helps. Thank you for writing!

November 2014