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Social Security Q&A

Women May Receive Their Earned Social Security Benefit and Another as a Wife

Women need to familiarize themselves with what the program means to them in their particular circumstances

March 11, 2013 - Understanding Social Security benefits may mean the difference between living more comfortably versus just getting by in retirement, especially for married women. Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration addresses a question about a woman receiving her own work retirement and benefits as a wife.


I will qualify for Social Security retirement based on my own work. My husband will also qualify for his own benefit. Will I get both my own retirement and a benefit as a wife as the same time?


The short answer is “it depends”. 

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first.

If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits.

Understanding the benefits may mean the difference between living more comfortably versus just getting by in retirement. For this reason, women may want to familiarize themselves with what the program means to them in their particular circumstances.

If you have not worked or do not have enough Social Security credits and you are married, you may qualify for benefits based on your husband’s work. When he retires, or if he becomes disabled, you could be eligible for benefits as early as age 62.

If you choose to begin receiving wife’s benefits before you reach full retirement age, your benefit amount is reduced and will not be increased once you reach full retirement age. If you wait until you reach full retirement age, you will receive the maximum benefit, which is up to half of the amount your husband is entitled to receive at his full retirement age.


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Medicare enrollment is available based on your husband’s work when you reach the age of 65.

Even if your husband does not want to receive reduced retirement benefits, you can still receive a spousal benefit on his work record. This is possible if your husband is full retirement age, and he “files and suspends” his retirement benefit. This occurs if he applies for retirement benefits and then requests to have payments suspended. That way, you can receive spouse’s benefits and he can continue to earn delayed retirement credits until age 70.

You can learn more about your Social Security benefits by clicking on the “Retirement” tab at


What is the “Part B” Medicare monthly premium for 2013?


Most people pay the standard Part B premium of $104.90 each month in 2013. If your modified adjusted gross income on your Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax return from two years ago is above a certain amount, you may need to pay more.

Only about ten percent of Medicare beneficiaries, those with very high income, are required to pay a monthly premium greater than $104.90. Tax returns from two years ago are the most current tax return information provided to Social Security by the IRS.

For more information, visit and select the “Medicare” tab.

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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