Ex-Spouse Benefits And How They Affect You

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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729 thoughts on “Ex-Spouse Benefits And How They Affect You

  1. I want to apply for Spousal Benefits. I have a copy of our Marriage Certificate and Divorce Decree. We were married December 1969 and divorced in 1986. Please let me know what the next step is in this Application process.

    Thank you

    • Hi Jeanne, thanks for using our blog. If you are divorced and currently unmarried, you may be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. Your benefit as a divorced spouse can be equal to one-half of your ex’s full retirement amount only if you start receiving those benefits at your full retirement age. If you begin to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits you qualify for once you opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to your full retirement age.
      Remember, if you qualify for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own retirement benefits first. If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher divorced spouse benefit.

      See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      You can apply online by using our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s,divorced spouse’s or Medicare benefits.

    • Hi Sylvia, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs based program so a change in income and assets can affect your benefits. You can 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.

  2. After 65 am I entitled to any benefits from my divorced spouse? He is currently receiving soc. sec. benefits. What application from do I need to fill out to apply for review.

    • Hi Dianeo, thanks for using our blog. If you are divorced and currently unmarried, you may be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. Your benefit as a divorced spouse can be equal to one-half of your ex’s full retirement amount only if you start receiving those benefits at your full retirement age. If you begin to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits you qualify for once you opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to your full retirement age.

      Remember, if you qualify for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own retirement benefits first. If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher divorced spouse benefit.

      See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      You can apply online by using our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s,divorced spouse’s or Medicare benefits.

  3. I lost my job due to the pandemic and am considering applying for my social security benefits now at age 64 . My ex spouse is only 60 . Do I give up the right to collect on any amount of his social security being that he is not eligible for benefits until 62 .

    • Hi Vera, thanks for using our blog. If you qualify for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own retirement benefits first. Once your ex turns 62 or older, you can inquire about receiving additional benefits on your ex’s record.

      If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher divorced spouse benefit. Your benefit as a divorced spouse can be equal to one-half of your ex’s full retirement amount only if you start receiving those benefits at your full retirement age. If you begin to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits you qualify for once you opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to your full retirement age.

      See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      Our system is set up to take retirement applications four months in advance, and when you’re ready, you can apply online. We hope this helps!

  4. I was married for 20 years and have been divorced for 20 years from my ex. I am 62 and about to collect benefits. My ex’s benefits are higher than mine. Will my benefits be adjusted to match the amount that he is collecting?

    • Hi Jane, thanks for using our blog. If you are divorced and currently unmarried, you may be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. Your benefit as a divorced spouse can be equal to one-half of your ex’s full retirement amount only if you start receiving those benefits at your full retirement age. If you begin to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to your full retirement age, your benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits you qualify for once you opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to your full retirement age.

      Remember, if you qualify for your own retirement benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own retirement benefits first. If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher divorced spouse benefit.

      See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      You can apply online by using our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s, divorced spouse’s or Medicare benefits.

      • Thank you for your prompt response. Am I understanding this correctly? If my ex husband is collecting $1200 monthly as a benefit , would my personal benefit have to be below $600 monthly in order to collect under his record? Thank you

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