You might be a long way from retirement, but it's never too early to think about the benefits you and your family will receive later on down the line. For example, the Social Security Administration can provide retirement benefits to your spouse in addition to the benefits it offers to you. Your spouse must be at least 62 or have care of a child who is either disabled or under age 16. Your spouse can collect up to half of what you would collect if you retired between ages 65 and 67. She can collect the benefits even as you receive your own benefits.
Visit the Social Security Administration website at http://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/spouse.html.
Fill in the required fields. You will need to provide your date of birth and the month and year you want to start collecting benefits.
Click "Compute." The resulting screen displays a percentage of the primary insurance amount for which you will be eligible if you start collecting benefits on the desired date.
- Your "primary insurance amount" is determined by a somewhat complex formula that averages your monthly earnings. For a detailed explanation, consult the SSA website.
- If your spouse is caring for a child under 16, she does not have to be at least 62 to collect benefits. However, once the child turns 16, benefits will cease until your spouse reaches age 62.
- If a spouse decides to collect benefits before she reacher her normal retirement age, which lies between age 65 and 67 depending upon her birth date, her benefits will be reduced.
- Your normal retirement age depends upon your date of birth. For further information, consult the SSA website.
- SSA also provides death benefits to surviving spouses. You can find an estimate of these benefits by accessing your Social Security statement online at the SSA website. The SSA website also boasts an online calculator that can help you estimate survivors' benefits.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.