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Social Security: Here's a Simple Test to See If You Qualify for Spousal Benefits

There's little question that Social Security is a phenomenal system that helps millions of Americans during retirement. What makes it even better is that a wage earner's spouse is also entitled to benefits even if the spouse never worked outside the house.

But unlike the primary beneficiary, there are a handful of rules that dictate whether a person qualifies for spousal benefits. If you're wondering whether you make the grade, here are the four main factors:

1. You're at least 62 years old (this is the same threshold for a primary beneficiary).

2. You've been legally married to the primary beneficiary for at least one year.

3. Your own work history doesn't qualify you for larger benefits (in which case you'd just take those).

4. Your spouse has already filed to receive their own benefits.

As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses in the following video, so long as you satisfy this four-part test, then it's safe to assume that you qualify for spousal benefits under the Social Security program.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:33 AM, jacklhays wrote:

    I do not qualify for Social Security benefits on my own. Have never worked enough to make the quarters. Can I still collect because of my husband's benefits.

    Katy Hays

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John Maxfield
JohnMaxfield37

John has written for The Motley Fool since 2011. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Lewis and Clark College and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University. View John Maxfield's profile on LinkedIn

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