Collecting on My Ex-Spouse’s Social Security Benefits

Many divorcees are not aware that under certain circumstances they may be eligible to receive the social security benefits of their ex-spouses. However, the Social Security Administration has set forth certain criteria which when met can make a significant difference in the retirement lives of those affected.

Are you eligible?

According to the Social Security Administration, one may be eligible to receive social security benefits from his or her ex-spouse if he or she:

  • Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years;
  • Is at least age 62 years old;
  • Is unmarried; and
  • Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

Additionally, the former spouse must actually be eligible to receive his or her retirement disability benefit. As in all social security benefit payouts, the age at which a person begins collecting affects the amount of the payout. So while eligible at age 62, full benefits will only be paid when the person reaches Full Retirement Age. Contact one of our divorce and family law attorneys to help you sort through these issues.

What if I’m remarried?

Generally speaking, if you are re-married (to someone other than your ex-spouse) you are not eligible to receive social security benefits from your ex-spouse, unless the later marriage ends. If your former spouse has passed away, you may be eligible to receive benefits if you:

  • Are at least age 60, or age 50 and disabled;
  • Were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years; and
  • Are not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on your own record.

These are complex issues, and the divorce attorneys at Maselli Warren can help you navigate them.

What if two marriages lasted more than ten years?

One of the requirements for collecting social security benefits of an ex-spouse is that you were married for more than 10 years. But what if two marriages lasted that period of time? There are circumstances in which it is possible to switch benefits back and forth between former spouses. Furthermore, if you were married to the same person two separate times, and those marriages totaled more than 10 years, these years may be added together in order to meet the requirement for receiving social security benefits (see this article from Reuters.

What about my own benefits?

Often times it can be beneficial to collect benefits from a former spouse until such time as your own benefits reach full maturity. In order to determine if you are eligible for such a switch and if it makes sense for you to do so, contact one of the attorneys at Maselli Warren.