Social Security Retirement Benefits
Social Security benefits are cash benefits that will pay you each month when you retire. The amount that you receive each month is based on an average of your highest 35 years of earnings over your work history. The amount may also be different if you choose to retire early, at your full retirement age, or later.
Are family members eligible for your benefits?
If you’re getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits, based on your record. These Social Security payments to family members will not decrease the amount of your retirement benefit.
Spouse’s Benefits: Your spouse or former spouse may get up to 50% of your full benefit on your earnings record when you start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. To get benefits, your spouse or former spouse must be either:
- Age 62 or older; or
- Younger than 62, if they are taking care of a child entitled on your record who is younger than age 16 or has a qualifying disability.
This can be helpful for a spouse who has never worked or had a job that didn’t pay into the Social Security retirement system. Also, if your spouse earned less than you, and your retirement benefits are higher than your spouse’s, then your spouse could get an additional payment so that your benefits are equal.
Example: Jane qualifies for a retirement benefit of $1,250 and her spouse’s benefit is $1,400. At her full retirement age, she will get her own $1,250 retirement benefit. The SSA will also add $150 to match her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $1,400. Her spouse will also receive their full $1,400. If either of them takes their retirement benefit before their full retirement age, both amounts are reduced.
Children’s Benefits: Your dependent child may get up to 50% of your full benefit on your earnings record when you start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. To get benefits, your child must be unmarried and:
- Younger than age 18;
- 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
- Have a disability, even if older than 18, and their disability began before age 22.
A step-child is eligible for benefits only if the step-parent financially supported the step-child before the step-parent becomes eligible for benefits or dies.
Social Security may also pay benefits to grandchildren, when the grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies, if certain rules are met. Generally, the biological parents of the child must be deceased or have a disability, or the grandparent legally adopts the grandchild.
For more information about Social Security Retirement Benefits, visit ssa.gov/retirement.