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How long does someone have to be married to collect Social Security spouse benefits?

To receive a spouse benefit, you generally must have been married for at least one continuous year to the retired or disabled worker on whose earnings record you are claiming benefits. 

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There are narrow exceptions to the one-year rule. For example, you can receive benefits on the record of a new spouse if, in the month before the month in which you married that person, you were already receiving or met the requirements to receive benefits as a spouse (of someone else), divorced spousesurviving spousesurviving divorced spouseparent or disabled adult child.

Keep in mind

  • In most cases you must be at least 62 to get a spouse benefit, but you may qualify if you are younger and caring for a child who is under 16 or disabled and eligible for family benefits on your spouse's record.
  • The maximum spouse benefit is 50 percent of your mate's full retirement benefit. You get that if you claim the spouse benefit at your full retirement age (66 and 4 months for people born in 1956 and two months later for people born in 1957). The age is gradually rising to 67 over the next few years. Spouse benefits are reduced if claimed earlier.

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