Divorced Women and Social Security

I have had several female clients ask me about their right to collecting social security retirement benefits from their ex-husband’s account. So I thought a brief “14 Things Every Woman Should Know About Social Security” would be helpful. Here goes:

    1. If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if he or she has remarried) if:
      • You are unmarried;
      • You are age 62 or older;
      • 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.

Note: Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age.

    1. If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).
    2. If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years.
    3. If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record we will pay that amount first. But if:
      • The benefit on his or her record is a higher amount, you will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount (reduced for age).

Note: The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.

    1. You have reached full retirement age and you are eligible for a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you have a choice.
    2. You can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefits now and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of Delayed Retirement Credits.

If you:

  1. Continue to work while receiving benefits, the retirement benefit earnings limit still applies. If you are eligible for benefits this year and are still working, you can use our earnings test calculator to see how those earnings would affect your benefit payments.
  2. Will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, your Social Security benefit on your ex-spouse’s record may be affected.
  3. (And probably THE most asked question by the working spouse) The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the amount of benefits your ex-spouse or their current spouse may receive.

If you need more information about this, or any other issue involving an ex, or soon-to-be ex-spouse, be sure to speak to an experienced Fresno Divorce Attorney.