When you file for Social Security, you will be “deemed” to be applying for the maximum benefit to which you are eligible — whether it’s your own retired worker benefit or a spousal benefit. You will not be able to claim a spousal benefit and switch to a higher worker benefit at a later date. If you are married, were born on or before January 1, 1954, and have not claimed Social Security, you may be eligible to file a “restricted application” for spouse-only benefits when you reach full retirement age in order to receive spousal benefits and earn delayed retirement credits on your own work record, up to age 70. Survivor benefits, however, are not affected by the deemed filing rules, so an eligible widow or widower can switch from a spousal or worker benefit to a survivor benefit (or vice versa). Spousal Benefits Spouses are entitled to receive a benefit based on their own earnings history or a spousal benefit that could be as high as 50% of their spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount. To receive a spousal benefit, you must be age 62 or older, you must have been married for at least one year, and your spouse must have claimed or be receiving Social Security retirement benefits. A spousal benefit claimed at your full retirement age would be equal to one-half of your spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount. If you elect to receive a spousal benefit before reaching full retirement age, you will receive a permanently reduced benefit, unless a qualifying child is being cared for. The reduction amount is based on your age when claiming the spousal benefit. An unmarried, divorced spouse may also be eligible to collect a spousal benefit based on a former spouse’s work record if they were married for at least 10 years. These benefits have no effect on the former spouse’s benefits or on his or her subsequent spouse’s benefits.