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Social Security Benefits even if you haven't paid into the system?

Classof2015Classof2015 Registered User Posts: 4,189 Senior Member
edited August 2012 in Parent Cafe
Has anyone heard about this? My H has never made enough to pay into Social Security. He has been self-employed since 1974 and his income has only been positive for 2-3 years.

He tells me he has zero benefits (or perhaps he has benefits but they are minimal). He is 61. Someone told me they've heard that if he was married for 10 years+ to someone who DID pay into the system (which I have done for 30+ years) he is entitled to some small amount each month. I am going to contact the Social Security Administration, but does anyone have any knowledge about this?

Thanks in advance. There's got to be something good about getting older, right?
Post edited by Classof2015 on

Replies to: Social Security Benefits even if you haven't paid into the system?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,487 Senior Member
    If he has been self-employed, and has been paying his SE taxes, then he has paid into the system. Start with that when you talk with the SS Administration. He may have been able to dodge income tax for all these years, but it is hard for me to believe that he never paid a cent of Self-Employment tax. The current income figure for escaping that tax is $400 in one year.

    If you have paid into the SS system, and the two of you will have been married at least ten years, then he can claim benefits based on your income. Even should you get divorced after you've been married 10+ years he can claim based on your income.
  • Classof2015Classof2015 Registered User Posts: 4,189 Senior Member
    If he has been self-employed, and has been paying his SE taxes, then he has paid into the system.

    That statement is only correct if you add the phrase "and if he had income".

    For 99% of the time he has been working, his income was negative -- expenses, but no income. Or expenses that far exceeded his income.

    But it's good to hear you stating the same thing my friend did (that he's entitled to benefits).
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,487 Senior Member

    You are truly an amazingly patient woman if he has been self-employed and in the negative income range for all of that time. I hope he recognizes how fortunate he is to have you!
  • Classof2015Classof2015 Registered User Posts: 4,189 Senior Member
    I'm either amazingly patient...or a complete sucker! ha ha ha. Ha.
  • garlandgarland Registered User Posts: 15,064 Senior Member
    Weren't spousal benefits always part of the system (based on the time when most wives didn't work)?

    For that matter, I got seven years of benefits from age 14-21, and I hadn't paid into the system then, either.
  • dadinatordadinator Registered User Posts: 1,439 Senior Member
    I think your husband's benefit may be a pleasant surprise - if I remember correctly, he will be entitled to an amount equal to one-half of your benefit (if you are entitlted to a monthly benefit of $2,000, then he is entitled to a monthly benefit of $1,000).
  • Classof2015Classof2015 Registered User Posts: 4,189 Senior Member
    ^^thanks all for the good news. I was thinking he'd get nothing, so anything is a very nice surprise.
  • wbowwbow Registered User Posts: 972 Member
    here's the real rip-off.

    if/when i become a state annuitant, should my husband die, i can not receive any social security benefits from him. he has paid in the maximum amt for years and years and years.....

    thanks, illinois!
  • Dad IIDad II Registered User Posts: 2,281 Senior Member
    What? This is a great news for us.

    DW will get 1/2 of my SS benefit w/o has to pay a penny in? Could someone please give a link. Thanks

    Found it http://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/spouse.html
    When a worker files for retirement benefits, the worker's spouse may be eligible for a benefit based on the worker's earnings. Another requirement is that the spouse must be at least age 62 or have a qualifying child in her/his care. By a qualifying child, we mean a child who is under age 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits.

    The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit. However, if a spouse is caring for a qualifying child, the spousal benefit is not reduced.

    If a spouse is eligible for a retirement benefit based on his or her own earnings, and if that benefit is higher than the spousal benefit, then we pay the retirement benefit. Otherwise we pay the spousal benefit.
  • klugekluge Registered User Posts: 6,559 Senior Member
    It's true. My wife has paid into the system for 40 years, but her SS benefit won't be any greater than it would be if she had never worked a day in her life because she's entitled to receive the same amount based on being married to me as she is based on her own income.
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    But couldn't she start taking a benefit based on her SS contributions at age 62 and then switch over to your contributions when you start taking yours at age 66?
  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Registered User Posts: 2,125 Senior Member
    If she starts taking her own benefits at 62, when she switches to taking half of your benefits, she will get a reduced amount because she started taking any $$ at all early, before full retirement age 66. I think that you lose 8% for every year before 66 and gain 8% for every year after you take benefits. So if you take benefits at 62 you get 32% less than 66, and if you wait until 70, you get 32% more. At least that is how I understand it. You need to talk to the social security folks to figure out all the ins and outs of how to take benefits and when, and what the drawbacks and advantages are of taking them at different stages. Check with the authorities.
  • NJresNJres Registered User Posts: 5,898 Senior Member
    I love the natural progression, from experts on college admission, college financing, and now.... Social Security! :D
  • fendergirlfendergirl Registered User Posts: 4,694 Senior Member
    classof, does he get statements in the mail from social security each year? I'm only 29 but I've been getting them for years.
  • dragonmomdragonmom Registered User Posts: 5,642 Senior Member
    Dependent spouses get benefits based on the employed spouse's benefit.
    Slightly off topic:
    What many don't know is that if you were married to someone covered by SS and were divorced you are entitled to spousal benefits if you were married for the required amount of time. Your ex doesn't have to agree or even know, his or her benefits and/or their current spouse's benefits aren't changed.
This discussion has been closed.