Retirement

Ex-Spouse Benefits And How They Affect You

February 15, 2018 • By

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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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. Tonya quiroz

    Hi, just wanted to know if I can change my name back to Biggs during this pandemic

  2. MARIANNE BROWN

    CAN I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT ONLINE TO APPLY FOR SURVIVORS BENEFITS

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Marianne, thanks for using our blog. We currently do not have an online appointment scheduler. To make an appointment, call 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.

  3. Mary Lou Johnson

    Hi, I would like to make sure I get this straight from what I read. I have been divorced for 20 years. I am 62 and still working and so is my ex-husband. So…If I apply for his social security, I only get whose ever benefits are more, not both. Is this a correct assumption? Thank You.

    ML

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Mary Lou, 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.

      However, 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.

  4. Sandra Huse

    I was married to my ex husband over 10 years, he has since became deceased, how do I find out if he was receiving ssi?

  5. Shelly

    Can I file for my ex spouse benefits, he’s still alive, then switch to mine at age 70 when mine grows to more than half of his? I am 62 and so is he.

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Shelly, thank you for your question. You may be able to get divorced spouse’s benefits but, under existing law, if you are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a divorced spouse, you must apply for both benefits and you’ll receive the higher of the two benefits. This requirement is called “deemed filing” because when you apply for one benefit you are “deemed” to have also applied for the other.

      There is an exception for those that turn 62 before January 2, 2016. Deemed filing rules will not apply if they wait to file at their full retirement age or later. This means that they may file for either spouse’s benefit or retirement benefits without being required or “deemed” to file for the other.

      See our Deemed Filing For Retirement And Spouse’s Benefits FAQs web page for details.

  6. Catherine Rathbun

    I AM GOING TO START RECEIVING SURVIVORS BENEFITS I JUST RECEIVED A LETTER FROM SSA AND IT SAID I MIGHT BE TAXED IF I AM SINGLE AND MY TOTAL INCOME IS MORE THAN 25,000 A YEAR.
    HOW DO I FIGURE MY TOTAL INCOME? BEFORE HIS BENEFITS ARE ADDED OR SHOULD I INCLUDE THEM IN MY TOTAL. IT STATES IN THE LETTER I CAN DECIDE TO HAVE THE TAXES WITHHELD. WHICH I WOULD LIKE TO DO. MY INCOME IS BELOW THE CUT OFF BUT ONCE IT IS ADDED I WILL BE OVER THE CUT OFF AMOUNT.THEREFORE I DON’T KNOW WHAT I SHOULD DO PLEASE ADVISE ME

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Catherine, thanks for using our blog. Some people do have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return). For information about taxation of benefits as well as how to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits, visit our Benefits Planner: Income Taxes And Your Social Security Benefits. We hope this is helpful!

  7. Sabine Scruggs

    Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

    ich wende mich an Sie mit der Bitte, mir Auskunft zu geben, wie ich weiter verfahren kann, bezüglich meines Versorgungsausgleiches nach der Scheidung von meinem Ex-Ehemannes James Lee Scruggs, Sozialversicherungs Nr. *** – ** – ***, der amerikanischer Staatsbürger ist.

    Ich war 37 Jahre mit ihm verheiratet und habe zwei leibliche Kinder von ihm, Rodney Scruggs und Jayson Scruggs.

    Ich weiß, mein Ex-Ehemann hat nunmehr Rente beantragt und das Scheidungsurteil von mir verlangt, was er wohl nie persönlich durch die Deutsche Post in Empfang genommen hat. Er ist auch nie zu einem Scheidungstermin am Amtsgericht Neustadt a.d. Aisch erschienen (Az.: 1 F 358/15). Die Ehe wurde dann am 31.08.2016 geschieden.

    Er hatte zum Schluss hier in Deutschland als Zivildienstleistender für die US-Army in Ansbach gearbeitet und die letzten Jahre in Georgia 31905 USA im Fort Benning und soweit ich weiß, vorher noch im Fort Campbell.

    Durch die Geburt unserer Kinder hatte ich ab 1983 nur noch halbtags oder in Teilzeit gearbeitet.

    Seit 1991 leide ich an Multipler Sklerose, bin 90 % schwerbehindert und erhielt seit 2015 volle Erwerbsminderungsrente. Ich kann mir leider aufgrund hoher Arzneimittelkosten keinen Rechtsanwalt leisten.

    Gibt es eine Möglichkeit, dass der Versorgungsausgleich über das Konsulat geregelt werden könnte?

    Als Anhang übersende ich Ihnen die Heiratsurkunde, Scheidungsurteil und die Geburtsurkunden der Kinder.

    Für eine Antwort wäre ich sehr dankbar.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    Sabine Scruggs
    Am Rain 1
    35039 Marburg
    Tel.-Nr. 06421-6977659

  8. Jennifer R Davis

    What can I do to fight for a change in a policy? I want to eliminate the ex spouse benefits.

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for using our blog. Congress would need to pass legislation to make any changes to the Social Security Act. We hope this helps!

  9. Avis McClendon

    Can you file a capter 16 if you are separated from your spouse

  10. Ruth Queck

    If I am currently collecting on my ex spouses social security benefits and he becomes deceased what do I need to do to collect his full benefits?

    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Ruth. Thanks for your question. You can contact us at 1-800-772-1213 or your local office to determine if any action is necessary. For additional information on Survivor benefits, check out our Survivors Planner . We hope this helps.

Comments are closed.