Ex-Spouse Benefits and You

A worried woman holds her ring finger- she's been through a divorce.No doubt about it — thinking of an ex-spouse can be emotional. And, if your finances have changed for the worse since the breakup, even more emotions can surface.

We have news that may relieve some of your stress…

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.

There are other rules, of course. You must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you’ve 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 have been divorced at least two years before applying. After you reach full retirement age, you can elect to receive only the divorced spouse benefits and delay benefits on your own record, which may mean a higher monthly amount for you. If 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 or disability benefit amount.

The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse. The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the benefits your ex-spouse or his or her current spouse receives. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you can still qualify for widow’s benefits.

Our Benefits Planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you can still qualify for widow’s benefits. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse.

We hope this news adds some joy to the range of emotions you feel when thinking of your “Ex”!



1,794 thoughts on “Ex-Spouse Benefits and You

  1. Thank you for this information, My sister and I were confused. Someone from a Social Security office informed my sister different. She said my sister couldn’t apply because her husband was not retired. That she had to wait until then or until he would apply for benefits. They have been separated for over 15 years. They thought they were divorced back in 2009. But they are still married. He remarried about 13 years ago. My sister didn’t qualify under her own social. Because she didn’t have enough credits. So she wanted to apply under her husbands social. But was told she couldn’t because she was still married. They are going to get divorced. My sister asked if she can apply and receive benefits after 2 years of the divorce she was told o that she had to wait. She was told no she couldn’t that she had to wait until her husband retired or applied for his benefits. So this information made my sister happy. She is 63 years old and could use the benefits. They have been married since 1975. I am her sister Elisa I’ve been helping her. If you can help with any other information we would appreciated.

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