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By Rusty Gleer
Association of Mature American Citizens 

When Can I Collect My Ex-Spouse's Social Security?

If you were married for more than 10 years, you may be able to collect a spousal benefit even if you divorced

 

April 19, 2021

Ask Rusty – When Can I Get Benefits from My Ex-spouse?

Dear Rusty: I know that I am able to get Social Security from my ex-husband. We were married for 16 years and I have not remarried. I will be 60 soon and he is 63. I do not know if he is retired yet, as we do not speak. Please advise when I can collect and how to go about the process. Signed: Divorced Lady

Dear Divorced Lady: Since you were married to your ex for more than 10 years and haven't remarried, you may be able to collect a spousal benefit from your ex-husband when you are 62 years old. Your eligibility will depend upon the amount of your own personal Social Security (SS) benefit compared to your ex's benefit amount, but you cannot collect an ex-spouse benefit before age 62. To be eligible for a benefit from your ex-spouse, you must also claim your personal SS (from your own lifetime work record), and when you claim your own benefit an ex-spouse benefit will be given, if you are entitled to one.

To be eligible for a benefit from your ex-spouse, your personal Social Security retirement benefit at your own full retirement age (FRA) must be less than 50% of the benefit your ex-husband would get at his FRA (note that FRA amounts are used for this determination, regardless of the age at which either of you claim SS). If your FRA benefit amount is less than half of his FRA benefit amount, then you will be entitled to a "spousal boost" to bring your total payment up to your spousal entitlement. But taken at age 62, both of those amounts will be reduced.

Your full retirement age is 67, and if you claim any SS benefit before that it will be reduced. At 62, your personal SS retirement benefit will be cut by 30% and your spousal boost will also be reduced. So, at age 62, the total amount of benefit you could get (your own benefit plus your spousal boost) would be about 32.5% of your ex-husband's FRA benefit amount. Nonetheless, if you are comfortable with these benefit reductions, you can claim at age 62 (or any age thereafter) by contacting Social Security or, when the time comes, apply online at http://www.ssa.gov/applyforbenefits. You will need to provide SS with a copy of your marriage certificate and your final divorce decree, and you will need to know your ex-husband's Social Security number (SSN). If you do not know his SSN, you'll need to provide his parents' names and his date and place of birth.

If you wish to find out in advance whether you're entitled to an ex-spouse benefit and how much it is estimated to be, you can contact Social Security at 1.800-772-1213, or call your local SS office (find the local office number at http://www.ssa.gov/locator). Please note that all Social Security offices are temporarily closed to public access due to the pandemic, so calling them is your best current option to get an estimate of your spousal benefit.

One final caution: if you claim SS before your full retirement age and you are working, you'll be subject to Social Security's "earnings test" which limits how much you can earn before they take back some of your benefits.

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation's staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us at [email protected]

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About AMAC

The 2.3 million member Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] http://www.amac.us is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. AMAC Action is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing the membership in our nation's capital and in local Congressional Districts throughout the country. And the AMAC Foundation (www.AmacFoundation.org) is the Association's non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting and educating America's Seniors. Together, we act and speak on the Association members' behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://www.amac.us/join-amac.

 
 

Reader Comments(1)

Shelly writes:

What would be the outcome if the divorced wife was disabled at say 50 and collects SSDI, would she be able to collect an increased benefit from her ex husbands SS?

 
 
 

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