Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

How do you feel about non-working spouses receiving Social Security?

Asked by JLeslie (59554points) February 11th, 2020 from iPhone

Basically, at the age of full retirement a non-working spouse (never has worked outside of the home) can receive 50% of their spouse’s social security benefit. They never paid in, but they get money out.

Married, breadwinner couples, where the spouse never worked make out really well. Let’s say the husband always supported the family, in retirement the couple basically will get 150% of his SS benefit.

Is that fair? Do you agree with it?

Ex spouse’s can file on their ex’s SS benefit too if they were married at least ten years. So, if the money is better from your ex than your current husband, you can take the larger from what I understand.

Just another example of why marriage has various financial protections not available to non-married couples. There is no legal contract you can draw up outside of marriage to get this type of benefit or protection.

Here’s one article about it. https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/social-security/articles/how-to-maximize-social-security-with-spousal-benefits

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18 Answers

jca2's avatar

In my opinion, it’s not right and one of the things contributing to SS going bankrupt.

It’s an antiquated rule from the days when SS was initiated, when most women did not work outside the home.

ragingloli's avatar

I have zero reasons to have a problem with this.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli Why? I am not talking about taking away spouse benefits if the working spouse dies. This is only about getting benefit while the spouse is still alive and able to collect the benefit themselves, so if the couple is married the income is still coming into the household.

Inspired_2write's avatar

”...They never paid in, but they get money out.”
Of course they didn’t..no job was acceptable for a women then due to the feeling that a women’s place is in the home.
She had the rights to social Security since she looked after not only the husband and the home but the children.
Society did not recognize a women in the home as more than equal to a working person.
And nowadays a women CAN do that PLUS work to provide for deadbeat fathers lack of responsibility.
They deserve credit for raising the product of there husband.

chyna's avatar

I feel the spouse should be able to collect even if they didn’t work. They spent their life raising kids and taking care of the home. Probably did all the bills and accounting for the household. Had they worked outside the home, they probably would have only made minimum wage and it would have taken their whole paycheck to pay for daycare.
Social security is hardly enough to live on and is such a small portion of what we actually pay in over a lifetime, drawing half of what your spouse is drawing wouldn’t break Medicare.
I think the big issue with Medicare going broke is the fake disability claims they pay out.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have a problem with anyone getting more than 100% of anything they paid in, or a spouse did. 50% of the husbands is fine.
My reason is that it’s a choice to have children, and to stay home at this point. No one (taxpayers) should pay a penalty for your personal choice.

ragingloli's avatar

To be fair, I feel the same way about soldiers who get their legs blown off by an IED.

JLeslie's avatar

@Inspired_2write I’m just being devils advocate here, but the couple lived on one salary. Back in the day it was easier to live on one salary of course, not that that has anything to do with whether a woman wanted to work or wasn’t paid equally, etc. The woman has never been paid for her work, but then in retirement she is. Or, you could say the married man gets more money from SS than the single man, if you look at it from the standpoint of household income. People get paid based on the job they do, not gender, and not marital status.

Again, my argument is completely separate from a death benefit, I have no problem with that.

Women today who don’t work, generally don’t work because they don’t want to, or it’s best for the marriage, something the couple decides together. Single women don’t get that option. I should say single people don’t get that option.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@JLeslie
I know of several women who don’t work because there husbands earn too much money and by the wife not working they save more of his money than giving it to the Government in taxes.
( they are called CN’ers Meaning that the man works for the CN Rail and makes good money.
So I suppose that there are several other careers where the husband and wife do this by choice as to write off the spouse etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@Inspired_2write If they make so much money you are still worried about the wife getting social security that she never paid in? I think the 32% tax bracket starts at $300 adjusted gross income. Something like that. So, that is after subtracting $24K and whatever the husband puts in 401K, which is $19K unless he is 50 or older then $25K I think, plus if he has an HSA medical account, he can defer another $7k. I am assuming they are in a high tax bracket to decide her income is not worth earning. Unless, it is a calculation for child care, that is a completely different consideration.

My guess is most of the women have worked some time or other in their life, but just for the sake of argument we will stick with they never worked.

anniereborn's avatar

“Ex spouse’s can file on their ex’s SS benefit too if they were married at least ten years. So, if the money is better from your ex than your current husband, you can take the larger from what I understand”

If the woman is remarried, she cannot get the benefits of her ex husband.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@annie Correct. But if the man remarries, the exwife can still get benefits if they were married over 10 years.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Mixed feelings. I can see certain scenarios where it makes sense but I mostly see taxpayers flipping the bill for other people’s mistakes.

JLeslie's avatar

@anniereborn @KNOWITALL Thanks for that info. I’ll look into that.

I need to research SS stuff for myself. A friend of mine said you have to wait until full retirement to be able to get 100% of your husband’s SS amount if he dies. I’m not sure if she meant 100% of what he was getting before he died even if he took early SS, or 100% of full retirement.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie When my Father-in-law passed, he was married to a woman (his second family.)

My Mother-in-law filed and got half or all.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I think it’s all. It’s just my girlfriend said if you take it early you can’t get it all, and I am not sure what she meant by that. I’ll eventually have a meeting at a SS office, I think that’s the easiest way to get the correct information. Maybe when my husband is 60, to help the with the plans for retirement. That’s several years off. Rules might change by then anyway. Right now his half is close to what my whole is so if I die first none of the surviving spouse stuff really matters for us, and I am more likely to die first, but you just never know for sure things like that. Hopefully, it is no time soon for either of us.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Good luck. I’ll call my mercenary MIL if you need help, she knows all the tricks….haha!

johnpowell's avatar

Of course it is fine. And as good Repubs, ya’ll should support it. A perfectly legal method being used to maximize personal gains at the expense of others? That’s your Grover Norquists’ reform dream!

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