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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About the Author


Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


Please review our Comment Policy before leaving a comment.

  1. Terry Bolte

    We have a client at the Council on Aging. Her ex-husband passed away. He was remarried at the time of his death.
    Social security sent her a check equal to his full social security benefit plus my normal social security check.
    Is she allowed to get 100% of his benefit plus hers?

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  5. Elizabeth

    I am executor of a small estate. She died on 3/12/2020 and her birthday is 9/13. She is supposed to get her benefits for Feb on the 3rd Wed of March but no money was deposited. Will she get the money for Feb? She lived the whole month of Feb. Thank you.

    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Elizabeth. We are sorry to hear about your loss. Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. Based on the date of death, she was due the payment but since her death occurred before the payment date, her benefits may be returned. We may pay amounts due a deceased beneficiary to a family member or legal representative of the estate. See “Claim For Amounts Due In The Case Of Deceased Beneficiary” for more information. In some instances, the financial institution will automatically return payments upon notification of the beneficiary’s death. We hope this helps.

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  8. Diane lafata

    How do I go about receiving my ex husbands whom passed Social security

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Diane. If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who died and you are not married, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower. For more information, please visit our Surviving Divorced Spouse webpage.

      If you’re ready to apply, make 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.



  10. Maria. D

    I’m 63 years old still working .My ex-husband is 68 now and retired at 62.His present benefits form SS are higher than one half of mine predicted SS benefit at full retirement. Can he still apply for ex spouse benefits

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Maria, thank you for your question. 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. For eligibility details, check out the Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced.

      You can work and receive Social Security retirement benefits; however, because you are younger than full retirement age, there are earnings limits. For 2020, the yearly limit is $18,240. You can use our earnings test calculator to see how your earnings could affect your benefit payments and our Getting Benefits While Working web page.

      As for your ex-husband filing on your record, keep in mind that his full retirement benefit cannot exceed one-half of your full retirement amount (not your reduced benefit amount). So, he is only going to receive additional divorced spouse’s benefits if his own full retirement benefit (not his reduced benefit) is less than half of your full retirement benefit. We hope this helps.


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