Social Security update: Elder abuse, spousal benefits
June 1, 2021 | View PDF
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is on June 15. On this day, and throughout the month, communities, seniors, caregivers, governments, organizations and the private sector unite to prevent the mistreatment of and violence against older people.
Social Security imposter scams are widespread across the United States. Scammers use sophisticated tactics to deceive you into providing sensitive information or money. They target everyone – even the elderly – and their tactics continue to evolve.
Most recently, Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has received reports of phone scammers creating fake versions of the identification badges most federal employees use to gain access to federal buildings. The scammers may text or email photos of the fake badges to convince potential victims of their legitimacy. These badges use government symbols, words, and even names and photos of real people, which are available on government websites or through internet searches.
If you receive a suspicious letter, text, email or call, hang up or do not respond. You should know how to identify when it’s really Social Security. We will never:
Text or email images of an employee’s official government identification.
Suspend your Social Security number.
Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or cash by mail.
Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.
We only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from us and only in limited situations, including the following:
When you have subscribed to receive updates and notifications by text.
As part of our enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account.
If you owe money to us, we will mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights.
We encourage you to report suspected Social Security impostor scams — and other Social Security fraud — to the OIG website at oig.ssa.gov. You may read our previous Social Security fraud advisories at oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/news-release. Please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security imposter scams.
Eligibility for spouse’s benefits
Social Security helps you secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits, information and tools that support you throughout life’s journey. If you don’t have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits on your own record, you may be able to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.
To qualify for spouse’s benefits, you must be one of the following:
62 years of age or older.
Any age and have in your care a child who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled and entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.
Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to one-half the amount your spouse is entitled to receive at their full retirement age. If you choose to receive your spouse’s benefits before you reach full retirement age, you will get a permanently reduced benefit.
If you wait until you reach full retirement age to receive benefits, you’ll receive your full spouse’s benefit amount, which is up to half the amount your spouse can receive. You’ll also get your full spouse’s benefit if you are under full retirement age, but care for a child and one of the following applies:
The child is younger than age 16.
The child has a disability and is entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.
If you’re eligible to receive retirement benefits on your own record, we will pay that amount first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits that equal the higher spouse benefit. For example, Sandy qualifies for a retirement benefit of $1,000 and a spouse’s benefit of $1,250. At her full retirement age, she will receive her own $1,000 retirement benefit. We will add $250 from her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $1,250.
Want to apply for either your or your spouse’s benefits? Are you at least 61 years and nine months old? If you answered yes to both, visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement to get started today.
Are you divorced from a marriage that lasted at least 10 years? You may be able to get benefits on your former spouse’s record. You can find out more by visiting www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html for more information.