I have been reading this page on the ssa.gov website which seems hopelessly useless.

The situation I am curious about is:

  • 1 spouse does not work enough to accumulate 40 SS quarters
  • The other spouse begins taking SS at age 67 in the amount of $2000/month

The above page says:

Even if he or she has never worked under Social Security, your spouse may be able to get benefits if he or she is at least 62 years of age and you are receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits

Under the "How much will I receive" category it says:

If you qualify for benefits on your own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your spouse’s record is higher, you'll get an additional amount on your spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

However, nowhere on that page does it really talk about how their benefit is calculated other than an explanation of the maximum amount:

at your full retirement age, your benefit as a spouse cannot exceed one-half of your spouse's full retirement amount.

Does this mean that a non-working spouse gets 1/2 of my benefit? So using my example, our family would be eligible when both are age 67 for:

  • $2000 for working spouse
  • $1000 for non-working spouse

Or is there a different way this is actually calculated?

1 Answer 1


That's correct; the spousal benefit is 50% of the working spouse's Full Retirement Age benefit, if taken at the Full Retirement Age of the non-working spouse. If taken before that, it's permanently reduced.

See for example this page which explains it in some detail.

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