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. Marsha G Ross

    My ex husband of 25 years recently passed. I have never remarried, am 65 and am receiving social security benefits. What information do I need to forward to SS, and how long does it take for my SS to bump up to his benefit? I paid into his SS for many years, while not receiving any benefit under my own SS number.

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      HI Marsha, thank you for using our blog. We are very sorry for your loss. If you want to file for surviving divorced spouse’s benefits, you cannot apply online. To apply for survivor benefits, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make an appointment with your local Social Security office or call your local 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
  2. Ron Baurer

    How can I find out if my ex-wife is collecting social security benefits from my account?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Ron, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      Reply
  3. Leslie Stratos

    To whom it may concern,
    I am a divorced spouse who is over retirement age. I believe I am entitled to half my ex spouses retirement revenue. I was told I was not but as I read the requirements it seems I might be. Whom shall I contact to talk about this?

    Thank you,
    Leslie Stratos

    Jjcjls@comcast.net

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Leslie, 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.

      Reply
  4. Lana brown

    I’ve been married for 26+years together 18 will I be able to collect benifits

    Reply
    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Lana. To qualify for spouse’s benefits, your husband must be receiving retirement or disability benefits. Also, when you qualify for Social Security benefits on your own record, we pay that amount first. But if you also qualify for a higher amount as a spouse, you’ll get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount. Visit our Retirement Planner: Benefits For You As A Spouse for more information. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  5. Zoe

    I am 67 years of age and have been receiving spousal benefits
    Currently unmarried. My question is: if I wanted to remarry, how would this affect my benefits?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for your question, Zoe. If you get Social Security disability or retirement benefits and you marry, your benefit will stay the same. See “If I get married, will it affect my benefits” for more information. Thanks!

      Reply
  6. Nita Jan Criddle

    I am drawing a reduced Teacher Retirement… I have worked enough quarters under Social Security but it is less than my Teacher Retirement. I was married to my first husband over 10 years… John Batiste Sbarbaro. Mother’s first name was Marian.
    I am divorced from my second husband of less than 4 years, Raford Jake Criddle and divorced from my third husband of 6 months, Richard Ramirez.
    I am barely making it on my $1,795.00 Teacher Retirement with the taxes and home insurance and Texas Windstorm and Hail insurance… I go the last week of the month without groceries…
    I am very ill with Crohn’s disease and the cost of diapers and Colonoscopies is very expensive!
    I talked to a co-worker who is drawing Teacher Retirement and her ex-husband’s Social Security too!
    Please see if you can help me…
    I called but do not have an appointment until
    June 22nd. I was so in hopes there might could be something sooner.
    Nita Jan Criddle
    *** – ** – ***
    217 24th Avenue North
    Texas City, TX. 77590
    713-548-4083

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Nita, thanks for using our blog. If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse’s, divorced spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. For additional details, check out our Government Pension Offset factsheet.

      Reply
  7. JOSEPH EDLIN

    Can you change who can drawl your social security? I was married for 10 yrs and she hasn’t remarried and I want my current wife to be able to drawl it and not my ex

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Joseph, thank you for your question. If both your ex-spouse and your current spouse are eligible for benefits on your record, they both may be able to get benefits based on your record. Neither one reduces the benefits of the other, nor will they reduce your benefits. Check out our Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse for more details.

      Reply
  8. Bill Cukla

    how about if you got married 3 more times and divorced all 3 can you collect after 62 from the first one now deceased

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Bill, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      Reply
  9. Justice Blair

    How do I apply for social security benefits on my ex husband that is now passed away. We were married for 17 years and have been divorced for 9 years

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Justice. 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 want to file for surviving divorced spouse’s benefits, you cannot apply online. To apply for survivor benefits, please make an appointment by calling our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) 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
  10. Janine Richards

    I have been disabled since and before age of 21 have been recieving ssi only through the state last was for 778.00 a month learned recently the mother who abdonded me and all from abusive to avoid jail time from what she did to me I learned that she retired been in no contact since age 12 I suffer severe PTSD and clinical depression was disowned by entire side her family and like to keep all of this with no contact I learned that I should have been receiving g ssdi instead of ssi all these years since age 21 I started to receive this income how can I find out more

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Janine, thanks for using our blog. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. 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.

      Reply

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