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

Even if you've never worked outside of the house for pay, there's a good chance that you qualify for spousal benefits.

May 24, 2014 at 11:08AM


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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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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