How to Collect Social Security Spousal Benefits

Spouse trying to claim social security benefits in Mississippi

If you have limited income, Social Security benefits can serve as a lifeline to help you pay your bills and everyday expenses. These benefits become even more critical if you become disabled or your spouse passes away. In that scenario, spousal benefits through Social Security could become your only source of income.

Unfortunately, obtaining Social Security spousal benefits is not easy – even for people who desperately need help. If you’re having trouble collecting Social Security spousal benefits, the attorneys at the law offices of Derek L. Hall, PC are ready to help. Our team has decades of experience with these cases. We always provide one-on-one attention to our clients throughout their case, and we return all phone calls, emails, and online questions within 24 hours.

Don’t let the Social Security bureaucracy prevent you from getting the benefits you need to get by. Call our Jackson, MS social security benefits attorneys or visit our contact page today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Spousal Benefits?

There are two different kinds of Social Security spousal benefits. The first is standard spousal benefits, and the second is survivor’s benefits if your spouse passes away.

You are eligible to apply for spousal benefits if you meet the following three conditions:

  • Your spouse has already started collecting Social Security retirement benefits.
  • You have been married for at least one year.
  • You are at least 62 years old. If you are taking care of a child that is younger than 16 or disabled, the age limit is waived.

Depending on your age when you apply for benefits, Social Security spousal benefits pay between 32.5 percent and 50 percent of your spouse’s earnings. If you are also eligible for your own retirement benefits, you can collect these benefits or spousal benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will pay whichever option is higher.

To collect Social Security survivor’s benefits, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You were married to your spouse for at least nine months before they died, unless their death was accidental or they died in the line of duty while serving in the military. In these cases, there is no minimum time period.
  • You must be at least 60 years old. If you have a disability, the minimum age is 50, and there is no minimum age if you are caring for a child that is younger than 16 or disabled.

The amount you can receive in survivor’s benefits will depend on how much your spouse was receiving before their death and the age at which you file for benefits. You can read more here to find out more about how much you could receive.

Steps to Get Social Security Spousal Benefits

Obtaining Social Security spousal benefits or survivor’s benefits can be a challenge, even if you know the steps involved. There’s a lot of information you’ll need to gather, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the benefits if you apply for them.

Here are the basics on how to apply for Social Security spousal benefits or survivor’s benefits:

  • Gather your documents — You’ll need your Social Security number, your spouse’s Social Security number, your tax forms, birth certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, and other vital information.
  • Fill out the application form — This can be done online or at your local Social Security office.
  • Wait to hear back from the SSA — They’ll review your information to determine if you’re eligible for benefits and how much you will receive if you’re eligible. Once the SSA has reached their decision, they’ll send you a letter outlining their reasoning. If you’re deemed eligible for benefits, the letter will explain how much you’ll receive, and you can start collecting benefits right away. If you’re deemed ineligible, the letter will explain why.

A denial of spousal or survivor’s benefits isn’t uncommon, but there is an appeals process if your initial application process is denied. A Social Security benefits attorney can help you with your appeal to help you get the benefits you deserve.

Why It Might Be Beneficial to Collect Spousal Benefits

If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, or if you’re already living comfortably, you may be wondering why you should go through the trouble of applying for spousal or survivor’s benefits.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider applying for these benefits:

  • You may be entitled to more benefits than you’re getting. Depending on your work history and other factors, you could potentially receive more money from spousal benefits than you’re currently getting from your own retirement benefits. While the SSA won’t pay both your own retirement and spousal benefits, it will pay you whichever is higher.
  • Life is unpredictable. While you may be healthy and still working, an unexpected injury or illness could dramatically alter your lifestyle and income. Applying for spousal benefits ahead of time provides extra security in case anything goes wrong.
  • You’ve lost your spouse. While you don’t have to apply for survivor’s benefits once your spouse passes on, the money could be very helpful if you have limited financial resources or if you’re raising a child. Survivor’s benefits can be a lifeline if your finances are strained after the death of a spouse.

When Do You Need a Social Security Lawyer?

Because of the complex rules surrounding Social Security benefits, we strongly recommend that you speak to a lawyer before filing an application for spousal benefits. If you prefer to file the initial application yourself and your first attempt is denied, you should definitely speak to an attorney.

Our Mississippi Social Security lawyers understand the details of this system. We stand ready to help you fight for the benefits you deserve.

To schedule your free initial consultation with a Mississippi Social Security attorney at Derek L. Hall, PC, call us or visit our contact page now.