For more information on this subject, see our ten page guide on  “Life Benefits – Spouse, Divorced Spouse and Children” – click here


To receive benefits as a spouse you must:

  • Have a spouse eligible for retirement (receiving or under the “voluntary suspension”) or receiving disability benefits and
  • Not be receiving a retirement or disability benefit check based on your own work record that equals or exceeds one-half of your spouse’s unreduced benefit amount (this does not apply if you are filing for spouse’s benefits at your full retirement age) and
  • Be at least age 62; or
  • Have in care a child who could receive a child’s benefit check from your spouse’s work record. The child does not need to be receiving benefit checks from the same work record. The child in care must be under age 16 or be disabled.


You must also meet one of the following marriage duration requirements:

  • This is met if you have been married to your spouse for at least one continuous year or
  • You are the natural mother or father of your spouse’s biological son or daughter. You meet this requirement even if the child is no longer alive. or
  • You have been or could have been receiving benefit checks in the month before the month of marriage as a spouse, divorced spouse, widow/widower or surviving divorced spouse, parent, or disabled child.


If you are a divorced spouse, you must:

  • Be divorced from your spouse and
  • Your marriage must have lasted for a period of at least 10 years. You meet this requirement if the divorce became final on or after the 10th anniversary of the marriage.

If you are a divorced spouse and have been divorced for at least two years, you may be able to collect divorce spouse’s benefit checks even if your ex-spouse is not receiving Social Security checks.  Your divorced spouse must be at least age 62.  This is called “Independently Entitled Divorced Spouse” benefit.

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