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How does marriage affect Social Security benefits?

Marriage has no impact on your Social Security retirement benefit, which is based on your work record and earnings history. You and your spouse, assuming he or she also qualifies for retirement benefits, each collect your own separate benefits, and the amounts do not limit or otherwise affect each other.

How Does Marriage Affect My Social Security?

However, remarriage can affect your benefits — not your retirement benefits, but any benefits you are collecting on the record of a deceased or former spouse.

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For example, most widows and widowers become eligible for survivor benefits on a late spouse’s record when they turn 60 (50 if the living spouse is disabled) — but they forfeit the benefit if they remarry before reaching that age. There is no penalty for remarriage past 60 (50 if disabled). And if the pre-60 remarriage ends, you regain eligibility for the survivor benefit.

The same goes if you are divorced and collecting survivor benefits on the record of a deceased former wife or husband. However, if you are divorced and receiving spousal benefits on the record of a living ex-spouse, those payments end if you remarry, at any age. You can only collect those payments if you are, or again become, single.

Keep in mind

There is no maximum couple's benefit, but there is a maximum family benefit. It caps how much a family can receive from Social Security based on a single wage earner’s record. It includes that worker’s retirement or disability payments plus spousal and children’s benefits.

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