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I am receiving Social Security disability. Can my spouse get benefits on my record?

Yes. If you are collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your spouse can draw a benefit on that basis if you have been married for at least one continuous year and he or she is either age 62 or older or any age and caring for a child of yours who is younger than 16 or disabled.

In addition, your spouse must not be receiving a Social Security retirement or disability benefit of their own that exceeds the spousal benefit for your SSDI. No one can collect the sum of multiple benefits; in cases of what it calls “dual entitlement,” Social Security will pay the higher of the two benefit amounts.

Spouses can receive up to 50 percent of the amount of their mate’s disability benefit if they claim benefits at their full retirement age (66 and 4 months for people born in 1956 and gradually rising to 67 over the next few years) or on the basis of caring for the disabled person’s child.

Absent a childcare issue, spousal benefits are permanently reduced if claimed before full retirement age. For example, someone who turns 62 in 2022 would be eligible for 32.5 percent of a spouse’s SSDI amount.

If you are divorced and drawing SSDI, your former spouse also may be able to collect benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and your ex is 62 or older and has not remarried. Benefits paid to an ex-spouse do not affect what you or your current spouse get from Social Security.

Keep in mind

  • Minor or disabled children of an SSDI recipient also may be eligible for benefits. Payments to a disabled beneficiary’s spouse and kids are collectively subject to a cap called the family maximum and could be reduced if they exceed it.
  • Spousal benefits also can be reduced if you claim them before full retirement age and earn income from work that exceeds Social Security’s earnings limit.

Updated March 7, 2022