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Does my spouse have to file for Social Security retirement benefits for me to receive spousal benefits?

En español | Generally, yes, your spouse must file for and be collecting benefits for you to draw a spousal benefit. 

However, if your spouse reached full retirement age and voluntarily suspended his or her benefit before April 30, 2016, you can receive a spousal benefit even though your spouse suspended benefits. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changed the law, and a spouse cannot collect benefits on the record of a worker who submitted a request for suspension after April 29, 2016.

Keep in mind

  • Different rules apply for divorced spouses. A divorced spouse does not have to wait for his or her ex to receive retirement benefits in order to collect ex-spouse benefits, so long as  both parties are age 62 or older, were married for at least 10 years and have been divorced at least two years.

Published October 10, 2018

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