Definition - What does Spouse's Benefit mean?
A spouse's benefit is a monetary benefit provided by Social Security to a worker's spouse. The amount is equal to 50% of the worker's Social Security benefit. To be eligible, the worker must file for a retirement benefit, and the spouse must be at least 62 years old or any age as long as they are caring for a qualifying child, which means the child is either receiving a Social Security disability benefit or is under the age of 16.
In terms of insurance, a spouse's benefit functions like an annuity as a form of retirement income.
Insuranceopedia explains Spouse's Benefit
Spousal benefits play an important role in people's retirement income strategy. Beside current spouses, widows, and ex-spouses may be eligible as well. The latter must have been married to their ex for at least 10 years and remain unmarried up to age 60 to qualify; however, with ex-spouses, as long as the ex is 62 and eligible for benefits, they can receive a spousal benefit without the ex filing for Social Security.
Although a spouse can receive up to one-half of their spouse's retirement benefit as a spouse's benefit, this only holds true if the one filing waits until their full retirement age, which depends on their birth year and ranges from 65 and 2 months to 67 years. If filed earlier, the spousal benefit would be reduced. Nevertheless, Social Security always gives the person filing the higher of the two amounts, whether it's their own retirement benefit or the spousal benefit.