How to Apply for Social Security Spouse Benefits

Spouses of workers who paid at least 40 quarters (or 10 years) of Social Security taxes are eligible for spousal benefits. These benefits are equal to half of what the person who paid into Social Security receives. You can receive spousal benefits when you reach retirement age or a permanently reduced spousal benefit beginning at age 62.

How to Apply

Step 1

Apply in one of three ways: over the Internet, by phone or in person at your local Social Security Administration office. Go to or call (800) 772-1213 to apply or to find office locations.

Step 2

Be prepared to answer several questions about yourself and your spouse. Those questions include your name and Social Security number; your name at birth (if different); your spouse's name, date of birth and Social Security number; your date of birth and place of birth; your citizenship status; whether you have used any other Social Security number; information on any military service and when you served; information on any other pensions and annuities you might receive; names, dates of birth (or age) and Social Security numbers of any former spouses. You also will need the dates of your marriage to the spouse whose record you qualify for benefits on and, for marriages that have ended, how and when they ended.

Step 3

Before applying, decide what month you want your benefits to begin and, if you are three months away from your 65th birthday, whether you want to enroll in a supplemental medical insurance program for Medicare Part B benefits.

Step 4

Locate appropriate documents. The Social Security office will ask for documents to go with your application. You don't need all of them when you apply, but officials will need them before you receive benefits. Those documents include your birth certificate or some other document to prove your date and place of birth; naturalization papers; U.S. military discharge papers; W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for the previous year; final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse; and marriage certificate.


Have your bank account information handy if you want to have your benefits deposited directly into your account.


If you can't find all your records, at least have Social Security numbers for yourself and your spouse handy.

Things You'll Need

  • Telephone

  • Computer

  • Marriage license

  • Birth certificate

  • Naturalization papers

  • Divorce decree

  • Social Security numbers for yourself and your spouse

  • Military records

  • Employment records