This is the second part of a two-part series. Click here to read Part 1.


Social Security benefits extend to your spouse and children.

Widows and widowers can begin receiving benefits from their deceased spouse’s retirement at age 60 or age 50, if disabled, and can switch to their own retirement benefits, assuming their rate is higher, as early as age 62.

If you are receiving retirement benefits, your family can also receive benefits.   Your spouse age 62 or older; your spouse under age 62, if he or she is taking care of your child who is under 16 or disabled; your former spouse age 62 or older, as long as you were married for 10 years or more and the former spouse has not remarried; your children up to age 18 or up to age 19, if full time students; and your children over age 18, if they are disabled.

A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before reaching full retirement age.   If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, Social Security always pays you your own benefit first.   If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your own retirement benefit, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.  Your eligible children may also receive up to one-half of your retirement benefit; however, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family.

Since this can be a very complicated and important decision making process, it is recommended that you discuss your retirement plans with your Social Security representative, at least, one year in advance.