Retirement

Ex-Spouse Benefits And How They Affect You

February 15, 2018 • By

two women and child smiling Just like during tax season, it’s good to have all the information you need early so you can prepare and get any money you are due.

If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record. To be eligible, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both.

You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you divorced at least two years before applying. If, however, you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit. The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse.

The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the benefits of your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse. Our benefits planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you may still quality for widow’s benefits. You’ll find information about that in a note at the bottom of the website.

Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced today to learn whether you’re eligible for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. That could mean a considerable amount of monthly income. What you learn may bring a smile to your face … even on tax day!

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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

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  1. Taj Edwards

    My divorce date was 9 weeks shy of my 10 year wedding anniversary. Would this disqualify my ability to receive my ex-husband’s Social Security benefits?

    Reply
    • Sue

      Taj, thank you for using our blog and for your question. To be eligible for divorced spouse/widow benefits based on your ex-husband’s record, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. For more details, check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Evy

    I am 66 and my spouse ( larger income earner) is 61. If I apply to collect SS now, will I be able to switch to my spouse’s benefit at a later time when he qualifies to collect ( do I have to wait for him to collect in order to get the larger benefit. What about this same scenario if we are divorced after over 30 years of marriage ? I am trying to de ice if I have to wIt u til he collects for me to get the spousal benefit .

    Reply
  3. Evy

    I am 66 and my spouse ( larger income earner) is 61. If I apply to collect SS now, will I be able to switch to my spouse’s benefit at a later time when he qualifies to collect (or do I have to wait for him to collect in order to get the larger benefit.)What about this same scenario if we are divorced after over 30 years of marriage ? I am trying to de ice if I have to wIt until he collects for me to get the spousal benefit .

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Evy, thanks for using our blog to ask your questions. If you qualify for a retirement benefit from your own work history you can file for that benefit as early as age 62. You cannot receive additional spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses). Check out our Benefits For Your Spouse web page for additional details.

      Reply
  4. Pedrita Pecher

    Hi there! Have been divorced for a little over 20 years and never remarried since divorced. I was married to my ex husband for almost 20 years. I read here that I’m entitled to his social security if I elected to retire at 62 or at 67? He makes so much more money than I do. Will be able to collect at age 62? Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Pedrita. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

      – Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      – You’re unmarried.
      – You’re age 62 or older.
      – The benefit that you’re entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      – Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      Check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page for more information. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  5. Shirley

    I was married to my ex-husband for 20 years I remarried and my spouse died and I draw his Social Security I am 68 years old I need to know can I draw my ex-husband‘s Social Security I am currently remarried two months ago

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Shirley. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

      – Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      – You’re unmarried.
      – You’re age 62 or older.
      – The benefit that you’re entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      – Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      Check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page for more information. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. Lisa simicon

    I’m 56 & have been collecting Disability before we were married. We were married 13 years and are now divorced. I never remarried. He is 47and owns his own business. Can I collect his benefits now? Or do I have to wait until HE is 62 and retires?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Lisa. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

      – Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      – You’re unmarried.
      – You’re age 62 or older.
      – The benefit that you’re entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      – Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      Check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page for more information. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Kristie Moore

    My ex-spouse & I we’re divorced in 2016 and he died in 2019 nd I began drawing death benefits from him! I want to know if I remarry in the future will I lose his benefits?

    Reply
    • Sue

      Thank you for reading our blog, Kristie, and for your question. If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits. For more information, check out our Surviving Divorced Spouse web page. We hope this is helpful.

      Reply
  8. Amanda Langford

    My husband is currently collecting his ex-wife benefits. When he die will I collect the benefits he is currently getting (his ex-wife’s)?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Amanda, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. Your widow’s benefit is based on his work record. You would not be eligible for his ex-wife’s benefit.

      We are only going to pay the highest benefit amount from either record, meaning you don’t get both retirement and widow(er)s benefits but the higher of the two. For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our If You Are The Survivor web page.

      Reply
  9. michelle

    I recently got a divorce, I was married for 32 years. my questions are:
    How do I change my last name back to my maiden name?
    What kind of benefits am I entitled to?
    what forms do i need to fill out for my x-benfits?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Michelle. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

      – Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      – You’re unmarried.
      – You’re age 62 or older.
      – The benefit that you’re entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      – Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      Check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page for more information.

      Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page on how to change your name. All submitted documents must be either originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

      For additional information on how Social Security can help with your Social Security number, please visit our Social Security and Coronavirus web page.

      Reply
  10. Terry

    I’m 61 with a disability. My ex passed away a few years ago, we were married for 14 years. Can I collect as a survivor from his account?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      We are very sorry for your loss, Terry. If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse won’t affect the benefit amount for other survivors getting benefits on the worker’s record. If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits.

      You may be able to receive full benefits at your full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60.

      Check out our If You Are The Survivor web page for additional details.

      To apply for benefits, call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      Reply

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