Family Social Security Benefits – Federal Retirement

If you are receiving disability or retirement benefits, some members of your family also may be eligible to receive family social security benefits. While the benefits are expressed as a percentage of an employee’s benefits, their payment does not reduce the employee’s benefit.

They include:

Spouse Family Social Security Benefits

The spouse of an employee receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits is eligible if married to the employee for at least one year, or, if less than one year, is the parent of the employee’s child, and meets one of the following age requirements:

  • any age, with entitled child under age 16 or disabled in care (payment rate is 50 percent of employee’s full benefit);
  • full retirement age (50 percent of employee’s full benefit); or
  • age 62 through full retirement age, but permanently reduced for each month prior to full retirement age.

If both you and your spouse are eligible for both your own Social Security benefits and for benefits as a spouse, Social Security will pay the higher of the two.

Divorced Spouse

The ex-spouse of an employee receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits is eligible if married to the employee at least 10 years, and meets one of the following age requirements:

  • full retirement age (50 percent of employee’s full benefit); or
  • age 62 through full retirement age, but permanently reduced for each month prior to full retirement age.

For an ex-spouse to get benefits, you also must be 62 or older. If the two of you have been divorced at least two years, your ex-spouse can get benefits even if you have not yet retired. The two-year waiting period is waived if you were already receiving Social Security benefits before the divorce occurred. The amount of benefits an ex-spouse can receive has no effect on the amount of benefits your current spouse can get.

Note: The amount of benefits an ex-spouse can receive has no effect on the amount of benefits your current spouse can get.

Child

The child of an employee receiving retirement or disability benefits is eligible if meeting one of the following conditions:

  • under age 18 and unmarried (50 percent of employee’s full benefit);
  • attending elementary or secondary school full-time at age 18 and through the end of the school term in which age 19 is attained (50 percent of employee’s benefit); or
  • disabled, age 18 or over, and disabled before age 22 (50 percent of employee’s full benefit).

Maximum Family Benefits

If you have children who are eligible for Social Security benefits, each will receive up to one-half of your full benefit. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family. The limit varies but is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of your retirement benefit. If the sum of the benefits payable to your surviving family members is greater than the limit, then the benefits to your family will be reduced proportionately. Your benefit will not be affected.

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