Can You Receive Social Security Retirement Benefits from your Ex-Spouse?

When you’re ready to retire, trying to get the most out of Social Security can seem like a daunting task. If you have gone through a divorce, this can be even more daunting. One question may be; can you receive social security benefits from your ex- spouse?

Basic Requirements to Receive Social Security from a Prior Spouse

  1. If you are single when you are filing for social security, you may be able to receive benefits from a prior spouse if the following are true, even if your ex remarried:
  2. You must have been married to that spouse for at least 10 years. If you were married to him/her for less than 10 years, you cannot collect social security benefits from your ex-spouse.
  3. You must be single when you file for social security benefits.
  4. You (not your spouse) must meet the minimum age requirements to collect social security. As of 2016, the full retirement age is at least age 62, but if you wait longer to retire, your monthly benefit amount increases for each year you delay retirement. The age of your ex-spouse does not matter..
  5. The amount that you would receive from social security, based on your own earnings, must be lower than the amount you would receive from the ex-spouse. In other words, if your ex-spouse’s work earnings for social security retirement purposes is more than your earnings, you qualify. Your benefits from an ex-spouse will be half of his/her full retirement amount and doesn’t include offsets or credits for his/her delayed retirement.

You can find really useful information about divorce and retirement information from the Social Security Administration information here.

If you have been married to more than one spouse, for over 10 years each, you can choose which ex-spouse to collect from. You cannot collect from both, but you can choose the higher amount of the two or three, no matter the order of marriages. Additionally, the amount you receive from an ex-spouse will not effect that person’s ability or amount that he/she will collect when he/she is eligible to retire.

If you’ve remarried, you can’t collect from your ex-spouse, unless your next marriage ends by death, divorce or annulment.

Lastly, you can receive the Social Security benefits of an ex-spouse in addition to the retirement benefits given to you in a divorce decree. Since these benefits do not affect your ex-spouse’s benefits from Social Security, you may receive these funds in addition to any pension, IRA, or 401K benefits your received in your divorce decree.

Contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office with one of our Virginia divorce attorneys. We can walk you through the steps to get the most out of your divorce.

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