Ex-Spouse Benefits And How They Affect You

February 15, 2018 • By

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Last Updated: February 15, 2018

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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Johnny D.

    incredible you have suzy orman as a spokesperson! didn´t you know that she is a fraud and a scammer. see online reports about her.

  2. Debora B.

    Why are you only entitled to half of your deceased spouse social security if you never divorced.

  3. sa!my P.

    both my first and second husband were in the service….both went awol, neither one of them put diapers on my son…I did!

  4. Camille

    I have a question. How do I find out if my ex husband passed. I had no children with him and had no contact for 20 yrs. Would social security know this info? thanks

    • Walt

      SSA should know….

  5. Barbara G.

    I divorced in 2001 and had been married 30 years and 9 months. I had worked most of my married life. In 2015 I went to our local social security office to sign up. I was 62. I asked the man helping me about benefits from my ex husbands social security because he made considerable more money while we were married. He told me I could NOT draw on my ex husbands until he died since I had my own social security. So what is the truth?

  6. mary h.

    this is true i know but i have a question? my husband died in 1999. i receive some of his benefit, but he also had an ex with 3 kids, and they were married more than 10 years , is his ex entitled to some of his benefits too?

  7. Martha S.

    My ex-husband lives in Poland. He’s a Polish citizen and never worked in the USA. He’s 69 and still works.
    In 2001 we divorced after 28 years of marriage.

    I live in the USA and I’m an American citizen. Never married again. I’m 68 and also keep working.
    Am I eligible to benefits and if so how I can get them?

    • Walt

      you are only due your own SSA retirement benefits.
      You may be due some spouse/widow Polish benefits….but you need to contact the Polish retirement authorities.

  8. William E.

    My wife died back in October 1998 & we were married in August of 1984.

  9. Soledad R.

    Really good advice. Thanks

  10. Gloria A.

    I don’t know how to apply for x husbands benefits.

    • R.F.

      Hi Gloria! You can apply:
      •Online – Use our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s, ex-spouse’s or Medicare benefits.
      •By phone – Call us at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p. m. (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
      •In person – Visit your local Social Security office. (Call first to make an appointment.)

      • LILLIAN D.

        59 HOPKIN TON RD Westborough MASS01581

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