Authors: Attorney Daniel J. Schlichting & Law Clerk Sarah E. Schuchardt
Phone: (608) 257-0945
A divorced spouse can receive a portion of their ex-spouse’s social security benefits. However, there are certain requirements in order to be eligible:
- You must be unmarried;
- You must be at least 62 years old;
- Your marriage to your ex-spouse lasted 10 years or longer;
- Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
- The benefit 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.
https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html. Your former spouse does not have to be receiving benefits currently in order for you to be eligible as long as you have been divorced for at least two years. If you are remarried, you are generally ineligible to receive benefits based on your former spouse’s record unless this later marriage ends.
You are entitled to receive up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age (full retirement age can be calculated by going to https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html). The amount you are entitled to does not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive. However, if you qualify based on your own work history, you will only receive an amount equal to the larger of the two benefits – you cannot receive the full amount from both. The amount of benefits that you receive has no effect on the amount your ex-spouse and their current spouse receives – meaning that your benefit would not include your ex-spouse’s benefit.
Other factors may affect the amount of benefits you are entitled to receive as a divorced spouse. If you continue to work while receiving benefits, your retirement benefits may be reduced according to the earnings limit (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). If you receive a pension based on work that is not subject to social security, this may also affect the amount you are able to receive based on your ex-spouse’s record.
If your ex-spouse dies, and you were married at least 10 years, you become eligible for divorced survivor’s benefits, which are worth up to 100% of what your ex-spouse was due. These survivor benefits would be available as early as the age of 60, or at 50 years of age if you are disabled.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility for social security benefits as a divorced spouse, you should contact your attorney.