I Never Made a Social Security Contribution. Can I Still Receive Benefits?

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Q. I’m 62 years old and have never paid into Social Security. I’m retired and receiving a pension. Someone informed me that I am eligible for spousal Social Security benefits. Would this have an impact on my husband’s Social Security? When he retires, what happens? I don’t want to cause any problems for him. Will it have an impact on my pension?

— Worried

A. There are several moving parts in this situation.

First and foremost, your Social Security benefits will have no bearing on your pension.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY

Furthermore, your pension or decision to apply for spousal benefits will have no effect on your husband’s Social Security.

However, according to Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn, your Social Security benefits may be affected by a number of factors.

He claims that even if you never paid into Social Security, you may be eligible for spousal benefits.

“In your case, because you have no Social Security quarters earned,” he explained, “your maximum spousal benefit will be half of your husband’s Full Retirement Benefit.” “You can begin receiving these benefits as early as age 62, but they will be permanently reduced.”

The Social Security Administration has a quick online calculator that can help you estimate the reduction in benefits that comes with taking Social Security early.

If you had been contributing to Social Security but your own retirement benefits were less than half of your husband’s, your spousal benefit would be the difference between your benefit and half of your husband’s, he explained.

According to Social Security, the “dual entitlement rule” states that a person’s spousal benefit is reduced, dollar for dollar, by the amount of his or her own Social Security.

According to Scheibner, your application for spousal benefits will have no effect on your husband’s benefit.

It should be noted, however, that your husband must be receiving Social Security benefits in order for you to receive spousal benefits. So, if your husband hasn’t started collecting Social Security yet, you’ll have to wait until he does, he says.

Depending on where you previously worked, your pension may affect your Social Security benefits, according to Scheibner.

The Government Pension Offset, or GPO, may result in a reduction in your spousal benefits.

“If you receive a retirement or disability pension from a federal, state, or local government based on your own work for which you did not pay Social Security taxes, we may reduce your Social Security spouses, widows, or widowers’ benefits,” Scheibner notes.

“We’ll cut two-thirds of your Social Security benefits and your government pension.” If your government pension exceeds two-thirds of your Social Security benefit, your benefit may be reduced to zero.”

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“Your pension will have no impact on your husband’s Social Security because the GPO only applies to pension for work based on your own record,” Scheibner explained.

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