Social Security: Why 10 Years Matters

When it comes to your Social Security benefits, chances are that the only number that comes to mind is the amount of money you will be receiving with your monthly benefits package, which is quite understandable. Be this as it may, you also may want to think about another important number:  the number “10,” as in ten years. Believe it or not, one decade plays several big factors in terms of Social Security benefits. Continue reading to discover why this number is so important when it comes to your benefits options.

1. You must have worked a minimum of ten years to receive Social Security benefits. Although a lot of people spend several decades of their lives working a nine to five, many of us do not. Whether you stay at home with the kids, work under the table, simply haven’t had to work, or whatever the situation may be, in order to obtain Social Security benefits based off of your own work history, you must have at least a decade of taxable income under your belt.

2. You must have been married for at least ten years to receive spousal benefits. Your ex may have been the bane of your existence, but they also may be worth something to you where the wallet is concerned. If you were married for at least ten years, then you are entitled to spousal benefits, which is up to fifty percent of your ex’s Social Security benefits. Whether you take advantage of these benefits or not, it will have no effect on your ex-spouse’s benefits. However, you can only receive your own benefits OR spousal benefits, so be sure to choose the option that gives you the highest amount of money.

3. You have to have been in a common law marriage for at least a decade to receive spousal benefits. This is pretty much the same as the aforementioned point in number two, but only applies to those who live in states that recognize “common law marriages” (living with your partner for a specific amount of time with the intent to one day get married). To find out if your state recognizes common law marriage, check with your local government or social security office.

An entire decade may seem like quite a long period of time; however, if you compare ten measly years with the typical life span of most humans, you will realize that ten years is not much more than a brief era of your life. To make the most out of your Social Security benefits, and to set yourself up for a decent financial future when you retire, take the previously mentioned notes into consideration. Toughing it out for ten years may just be worth the higher pay out in the long run.

Jim Blair is a Social Security expert who provides advice to retirees both a consultant and through his popular Social Security Retirement Guide.