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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

Does my spouse have to file for Social Security benefits in order for me to receive a spouse benefit?

En español | Yes. Your spouse must begin receiving benefits in order for you to receive spousal benefits. However, if your spouse has reached full retirement age, he or she can opt for an approach known as "file and suspend."  This allows you to collect benefits while your spouse continues to delay taking them, increasing his or her eventual monthly retirement benefit. Note that different rules apply for divorced spouses. A divorced wife does not have to wait for her former husband to receive retirement benefits in order for her to receive ex-spouse benefits. However, they had to have been divorced for at least two years and both parties must be over the age of 62.

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