Dear Dr. Don,
Is it true that a man can't draw on his wife's Social Security earnings, like a wife can draw on her husband's, even if they were married for at least 10 years?
-- Patsy Pecuniary
The government is gender-neutral on this issue. The 10-year hurdle is for people who are divorced. The Social Security Online Web page "Benefits for your divorced spouse" explains eligibility requirements in greater depth.
If you're still married, the husband can claim a spousal benefit based on the wife's earning history. The Social Security Online Web page "Benefits for your spouse" explains these eligibility requirements.
That same Web page goes on to discuss other scenarios, such as when a spouse has reached full retirement age and is eligible for a spouse's benefit and his or her own retirement benefit. In such situations, the spouse has a choice, according to the Web page:
"Your spouse can choose to receive only the spouse's benefit now and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of delayed retirement credits."
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