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Can Someone Divorced Collect Social Security from their Ex?

Can Someone Divorced Collect Social Security from their Ex?

Divorced people might qualify for Social Security benefits which is a factor of the earning of the ex-partner. This article will shed light on qualification for such benefits and what you can expect to get from social security. 

Eligibility for Social Security for Divorced Spouse 

You must meet the following requirements to collect the Social Security benefits based on the earnings of your ex-partner. 

  • The least period of marriage is ten years

  • Your age must be 62 at least

  • You need to be single

  • You should be qualified for social security benefits (disability or retirement) when the former spouse applies. 

Your benefits on the record of your ex-partner are guaranteed provided the divorce is at least more than two consecutive years, and the ex-partner is yet to apply for a retirement benefit even though he/she qualifies. 

If you qualified for retirement benefits based on your records, you would get this amount first from the SSA. You will get the extra amount if the benefit of your ex-partner is more, and the total of both benefits will be the higher amount. 

For people born before Jan 2, 1954, and have gotten to the full retirement age, you can elect to collect only the benefit from the divorced spouse and postpone your benefit till a later date. For people with birthdays on Jan 2, 1954, or later, they do not have the option to select one of the benefits when they get to the full retirement age. Filing for one benefit will translate to filing for the full retirement benefit. Even while getting benefits, working will make the same limit on earning apply to you and your ex-partner.

As a general rule, a divorced partner qualifies for Social Security benefits which is equivalent to half of the ex-partner's retirement benefit even if the other partner already remarried. For a deceased spouse, the former partner might qualify for a survivor's benefit, which equals the entire amount. In any case, the divorced spouse needs to have gotten to the full retirement age to get the full benefit. 

For someone that filed before getting to the full retirement age, they will not get the full benefit as this is a good law for everyone applying for Social Security Benefits. One can file at age 62 even though the benefit will be lower. 

For a divorced spouse divorced twice or more, and the marriage spanned the ten-year gap, the person will not get both benefits but whichever is higher. 

It does not matter if the former partner marries again. The new spouse starts collecting the Social Security Benefits using the person's employment record; this record also qualifies the ex-partner to collect the benefits. 

Getting married again, while collecting benefits based on the entitlements of your previous spouse, and the person is not dead, you will be disqualified from those benefits.


When the ex has not started collecting the benefits 

For ex that is yet to apply for retirement benefits and qualify, it is possible to get benefits based on the record of the ex-spouse's earnings as long as they meet the other provisions and the divorce is more than two years.

How a Divorced Spouse can Apply for Benefits  

One can apply for benefits online via SSA.gov or go to your local Social Security office for an appointment. You need the social security number of your spouse, the place and birth, and the parent's name if you want to apply for benefits based on your ex-partner's work record.

If a divorced spouse applies for a spousal benefit, the SSA will also assume that you are using your work record to apply for the benefits, and you will get whichever of the two is higher. If you have a lower benefit, you will be paid an amount with your record as a basis with the difference between what you were paid and what you qualify for based on your ex-partner's record.



Pat Raskob
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