retirement

Collect fiance's Social Security?

Don TaylorQuestionDear Dr. Don,
My fiance and I have lived together going on 15 years. I want to know if I would be able to collect on his Social Security if and when I needed to. I'm 60 and he is 51 and we live in Washington state. If you could help me out on this I would appreciate it.
-- Debbie Down-aisle

AnswerDear Debbie,
The following is from the Social Security Administration's FAQ pages on its website.

Does Social Security recognize common-law marriage for the purpose of paying survivors and spouse's benefits?
Social Security follows the laws of the state where the worker was residing at the time of death or the place where the worker is residing when the spouse applies for benefits. In order for a common-law marriage to be valid, it must have been contracted in a state where common-law marriages are recognized.

Many states do not honor common-law marriages, so you should check local laws. However, most states -- even those in which a man and woman could not enter into a valid common-law marriage -- will generally recognize a common-law marriage validly entered into in another state. Again, check local laws.

While I'm not an attorney, a listing of laws by state concerning common-law marriage shows that Washington doesn't recognize common-law marriages. You say that he's your fiance, and you've been living together for almost 15 years, so when's the wedding?

You can't apply for the spousal retirement benefit until your husband has filed for Social Security retirement benefits. If he applies at age 62, he'll get a reduced benefit compared to waiting until his full retirement age. Since you'll be older than your full retirement age, you'll get the full spousal benefit. His applying early would, however, reduce your survivor's benefit if he were to predecease you.

You didn't say whether you have enough work history to claim benefits on your own work record. If you do, you have some options about when you start collecting based on your work history. The Social Security Web page, "When to start your benefits," can help you decide.

Thanks to Edward Lafferty, public affairs specialist at the Social Security Administration, for his help with this reply.

Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.

Ask the adviser

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select one of these topics: "Financing a home," "Saving & Investing" or "Money." Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.
 

Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this website is governed by Bankrate's Terms of Use.

News alert Create a news alert for "retirement"

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
MORTGAGE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed 4.20%  0.10 4.30%
15 year fixed 3.28%  0.02 3.30%
5/1 ARM 3.53%  0.19 3.34%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.38% --0.00 4.38%
50K FICO-based HELOC 4.11% --0.00 4.11%
100K FICO-based HELOC 3.96% --0.00 3.96%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.63% --0.00 2.63%
48 month used car loan 2.91%  0.01 2.90%
60 month new car loan 3.16%  0.01 3.17%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.90%  0.00 0.90%
2 Year CD 1.10%  0.01 1.09%
5 Year CD 1.81%  0.07 1.74%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.66% --0.00 15.66%
Cash Back Cards 16.36% --0.00 16.36%
Low Interest Cards 10.86%  0.01 10.87%
 
Next
advertisement
CD & INVESTING NEWSLETTER

Learn the latest trends that will help grow your portfolio, plus tips on investing strategies. Delivered weekly.

Blog

Jennie Phipps

Is Medicare really healthier?

The Medicare Trustees' report says that solvency of the program has improved, but a top health care analyst questions the long-term health of the program.  ... Read more

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us