An individual can receive Social Security benefits based on his spouse's record even if he has never worked under Social Security provided that he is at least 62 years old according to the Social Security Administration. The spouse must be receiving retirement or disability benefits from Social Security.
If an individual is under full retirement age and qualifies on his own record, that amount will be paid first but if the individual also qualifies for a higher amount under his spouse's record, he will be paid a combination of benefits equaling the higher amount, according to the Social Security Administration. If an individual starts receiving benefits at full retirement age, he will be paid one-half of his spouse's full retirement benefit. There is a maximum family benefit amount of approximately 150 to 180 percent of the worker's full retirement benefit that applies if one of the worker's children also qualifies for benefits.
Individuals receiving Social Security benefits based on their spouse's record are also able to qualify for Medicare benefits at age 65. It is possible for an ex-spouse to receive benefits based on his prior spouse's record subject to certain additional requirements and if an ex-spouse is receiving benefits this does not affect the total maximum family benefit limit, according to the Social Security Administration.