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

  1. Hi , I am 69 years old I am collecting my social security but I will like
    to know how can I apply from my ex husband social security benefits ?
    I was married 13 years we divorce I never got married again.
    He is 69 years old
    Thank you so much for this matter .
    Appreciate your help .

    • Hello Veronica. Thanks for using our blog. As a divorced spouse, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record if:
      • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      • You are unmarried.
      • You are 62 or older.
      • The benefit that you are 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.

      If you qualify for your own benefits and for benefits as a divorced spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a divorced spouse are higher than your own 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.

  2. My wife died on May 8th and i have been trying to report her death to SSA but don’t seem to find that endity listed. What part of SSA do i report her death to? Clare Herron

    • Hello Clare. We are sorry to hear about your loss. Typically, funeral homes report deaths to the Social Security Administration directly. You can check with the funeral home to determine if reporting has been done. If your wife worked long enough to be insured under Social Security, you may be eligible for a Lump Sum Death Payment. In addition, eligible family members may be able to receive monthly Survivor benefits. At this time, we do not offer an online application for survivors benefits.

      To learn more about benefits that may be available to you, please visit our Benefits Planner: If You Are the Survivor. If you have specific questions about your case or to apply, please call 1-800-772-1213 and ask a representative to assist you or, you can contact your local office. We hope this helps.

  3. I will be getting divorced on July 15, 2020 in Beaufort County and need to complete change in lifestyle forms. Also my 2019 taxes have decreased quite a bit and need forms to show the reduction in income. Also, I will be changing my name and need forms for that. Please email me the links to get those forms. Thank you. Do you provide DMV forms too since I’ll have to change my name there too.

  4. I am 53, not married and was married to my ex-husband for 23 years. we divorced 6 years ago. Am I entitled to his social security?

    • Hi Brooks, thanks for using our blog. Once you are 62 years old or older, you may qualify for divorced spouse’s benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer and you are unmarried when you apply. 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.

      In addition, 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.
      Check out our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

  5. your statement is misleading – “we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both”.
    If under Full retirement age a spouse doesn’t have a choice – they would need to take their own benefits if they are eligible under their own record and if they are eligible for spouse benefits they will receive benefits under their former spouse if the percentage is higher so it will be a combination of both. Your statement is misleading because spouses cannot defer the lower amount if under Full retirement age.

    • Hi Tanaka, thanks for using our blog. If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:
      • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      • Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
      • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
      • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
      • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      The amount of benefits your divorced spouse gets has no effect on the amount of benefits you or your current spouse may receive. Check out our Benefits Planner: If You Are Divorced for additional details.

  6. Would a wife be eligible for Spousal Social Security benefits, married over 10 yrs, not having remarried, but legally went back to her maiden name?

  7. I am drawing my own soc.sec. now but can I also draw my deceised ex-husband’s soc.sec. along with mine. Since we were married for 17 yrs.

    • Thanks for using our blog, Marcella. The amount of a surviving divorced widows benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of the person who died, when the deceased worker started receiving their benefits, the widow’s age, and the amount of the widow’s own retirement benefit. We compare their own benefit with the potential survivor benefit. If the survivor benefit would be higher than their own current retirement benefit at the time of their spouse’s passing, they would be eligible for survivor benefits.

      Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. For more information about Surviving Divorced Widow’s benefits, visit our Survivors Planner.

      To make an appointment to file for surviving divorced widow’s benefits, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or contact the 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. We hope this information helps.

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