A Payout Limit on Social Security Benefits

Your spouse and children may discover they can’t claim all the Social Security benefits they’re entitled to based on your earnings record. Here’s why.

social security card and money concept
(Image credit: kreinick)

When a worker becomes eligible for social Security, other family members may qualify for benefits on that worker's record, too. But there's a limit on how much can be paid on a single record - known as the family maximum - and it can squeeze what a spouse or dependent might otherwise be entitled to.

Although the family maximum can range from about 150% to 180% of a worker's full retirement age benefit, the cap is typically 175%, says Jim Blair, a former district manager for an Ohio Social Security office and a partner at Premier Social Security Consulting, in Sharonville, Ohio. If you have two or more benefits coming off your record, the family maximum will apply, he says. Those benefits could be paid to a spouse, a young child, a disabled child or a dependent parent.

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Rachel L. Sheedy
Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report