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!

See Comments

About the Author

Avatar

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

Please review our Comment Policy before leaving a comment.

  1. Brittany

    My ex husband is receiving some kind of SS benefits. He is only 56 years old. We have been divorced for 14 years, I am not remarried. Am I entitled to some of this?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Brittany. 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
  2. Brenda Lepage

    what is the email address to submit the application for divorced spouse benefits

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Brenda, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      If you are unable or do not want to apply for benefits online, you can schedule an appointment by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 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
  3. Laurel Kalenchick

    My Husband and I were married for 15 years and then we divorced. He passed away in 2016. I am still working a full time job. My question is can I draw his social security now and then when I retire stop his and draw mine?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Laurel, thanks for suing our blog. If you are the divorced widow of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can start receiving reduced survivor’s benefits as early as age 60 (50 if disabled). If you are also eligible for retirement benefits on your own record, you may have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other (higher) benefit at a later date.

      The earliest age you can apply for your own (reduced) retirement benefits is 62.

      You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age in 2021, the earnings limit is $50,520 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2021, that limit is $18,960.

      You would need to call and make an appointment to file for surviving divorced widow’s benefits as you cannot apply for that online. You can call your local Social Security office. 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.

      Reply
  4. Pamela Nichols

    I am 63, receiving social security benefits since age 62. My husband of 22 years is receiving his full SS benefits. We are in the process of divorcing. Here are the current numbers:
    His: $2143.60
    Mine: $1075.00

    Half of his is $1071.80 (Mine is $3.50 more than this amt.)

    Will I be eligible for ANY increase if I apply for ex-spouse benefits at age 66 and 6 months?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Pamela. 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. Alma Carol Forrest

    March 5, 2021

    My husband received Social Security every month and he passed away on Jan. 26, 2021. We were married 59 years. I am 76 years old. Why can’t I get a benefit each month instead of just the lump sum of $255?

    Reply
  6. LP

    Do I have to be divorced for 2 years before I apply for benefits on my former spouse’s record if he is receiving benefits now?

    Does alimony count as my wages and decrease my benefits if that puts me over the $18,960 limit?

    If I take a reduced monthly benefit off spouse’s record when I turn 62, would the benefit remain decreased if he dies, or can I then receive the full benefit?

    Reply
  7. Luis A QUIROS

    How do I know if my ex-wife has decided to receive social security benefits and the amount received?

    Reply
  8. L Q

    How do I know if my ex-wife has decided to receive social security benefits and the amount received?

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Please review our Comment Policy before leaving a comment. For your safety, please do not post Personally Identifiable Information (such as your Social Security Number, address, phone number, email address, bank account number, or birthdate) on our blog.

Leave a Reply to Deb Striker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *