What You Need to Know About Social Security After Divorce

Talking About MoneyHere’s some good news about divorce, for a change. If your marriage lasted at least ten years, you can claim Social Security benefits on the entire earnings history of your ex-spouse. These are known as “derivative benefits,” and they are equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s benefits.

It’s an either-or situation – you can choose to get your own benefits or the derivative benefits of your ex-spouse, whichever is greater. Collecting derivative benefits doesn’t reduce what your ex-spouse receives, or, if he’s remarried, what his current spouse receives.

Now, here are answers to three of the tricky Social Security questions we are often asked by readers:

1. How many ex-wives can claim derivative benefits?
As many exes as there are, as long as each marriage lasted 10 years. Mickey Rooney’s seven ex-wives got left out, since none of the marriages lasted more than 10 years, but three of Johnny Carson’s marriages lasted over 10 years, so all those ex-wives could claim derivative benefits.

2. If my ex-spouse dies, do my derivative Social Security benefits end?
This has a good news, bad news answer. The bad news: If he dies, the derivative benefit ends. The good news is that now you can collect survivor benefits, which are 100% of his benefits, not just 50%.

3. Can I receive both public employee benefits and Social Security?
Under the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), benefits received from a non-Social Security covered job (such as a teacher or other civil service job) may cause Social Security benefits to be reduced somewhat. In addition, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) applies to derivative benefits, which will be reduced by 2/3rds of the pension benefits received by an employee from a job not covered by Social Security.

These rules are subject to change, of course. When you are ready to claim Social Security benefits, be sure to let the Social Security Administration know that you were married for more than ten years, and be prepared to furnish your ex-spouse’s full name and social security number.

They will then calculate what benefits will give you the highest monthly payment, and they will be able to recalculate those benefits if your ex-spouse dies while you are collecting benefits.

For more information visit the page “If You Are Divorced at the Social Security Administration’s website.
If you are considering or preparing for a divorce, you can learn a lot of extremely useful information at a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop. Receive support, advice, and inspiration from experts, so you will know exactly what to expect! You can also get some great advice right here in our Divorce Article Archive just for women.

965 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Social Security After Divorce”

  1. I was married for 14 to my ex-wife before we divorced. She was a stay-at-home mom for 13 of these years. Our last year of marriage, she received her real estate license and began working. For the next twenty years after our divorce, she made a six figure income each and every year (according to my information and belief). Recently, I took early retirement at age 62 (my ex is now 55) and found out about this “divorced spousal benefit.” She earned virtually nothing when married but made a fortune after we divorced. Two questions: 1. would I receive any benefit from her earnings after we were divorced? and 2. if I could receive a benefit based on her income after we were divorced, would she have to turn 62 before I could receive that benefit? Thanks so much for your answer.

    1. I’ll assume that you are talking about social security benefits. When you apply for social security benefits, be sure to let them know that you were married for more than ten years, and give them your ex-spouse’s name and social security number. They can then pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled, based on your own earnings history, or 50% of an amount based on your ex’s earnings history. I’m guessing that your own benefit will be higher and that’s what you will receive. Initially your benefit will be calculated on your own earnings history, and when she turns 62 they will automatically recalculate to see if you are entitled to more now that she is of retirement age. But since social security is based on the highest 35 years of your earnings, I’m guessing that the benefit based on your earnings history will always exceed 50% of the benefit based on hers.

      1. Thank you for your prompt reply, but I’m still unclear on some points. You wrote: “Initially your benefit will be calculated on your own earnings history…” which seems to say, when I first applied for my early retirement at age 62, my ex’s now 20 year social security payments from her job would not be factored in until she reaches 62? We divorced in 2002. My confusion stems from your earlier statements of “When you apply for social security benefits, be sure to let them know that you were married for more than ten years, and give them your ex-spouse’s name and social security number. They can then pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled, based on your own earnings history, or 50% of an amount based on your ex’s earnings history.” To clarify, she earned much more money than I did AFTER we divorced due to her lucrative and successful career in real estate. My question remains: since I took early retirement at age 62, would I have possibly received more monthly benefits (due to the “divorced spousal” criteria) due to my ex’s vastly superior earnings over this 20 year post-divorce period if I had included her social security number? I did let them know we had been married but did not include her social security number when I first applied. And again, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated.

        1. You are correct, her earnings history doesn’t come into play until she is 62. And it is her entire earnings history that is considered in the calculations, not just what was earned before you divorced.
          So your payment would be based on your own earnings history until she is 62. After that you would get the higher of a benefit based on your own earnings history (that is, what you have been receiving) or a 50% benefit based on her earnings history. I suggest that prior to her turning 62 (if she hasn’t already) you contact social security to be sure they have her name and social security number in your records so they can make that computation when the time comes that she turns 62.

  2. I was married 35 years am 58 yrs old disabled since 2020 ex husband 62 yrs old divorced since 2020 he received over 100k I never got anything I never received my divorce decree .he went back and amended something I don’t know what to do he also was paying rears for child support now child support in Nevada can’t find my case number but they have a case number for my mom and I . That’s not true I don’t know how he did it with the attorney he had to get that settlement . What do I do

    1. First of all, find out if you are divorced, by giving your name and identifying information regarding your marriage to the county clerk in the courthouse where your divorce likely would have happened. Once you get that information, you can ask for a copy of your divorce decree and any amendments to it. If your divorce decree awards you alimony, and you still need it, you can take legal steps to get it, so ask the clerk what paperwork you need to file.If you are still married, then you can begin divorce proceedings and ask for alimony, if the laws of your state allow for that.

  3. I hold a USA passport and Uk passport and divorced after 10 years of marriage to a service man I now reside in UK but file my US taxes each year as I didn’t earn enough credits for my own SS I know I can claim of my ex spouses however as I am 66 I am eligible for my UK state pension how will this effect mu SS re WEP? Thanks

    1. I know a lot about the general rules of social security, but I do not know specifically whether a UK pension would affect the amount of your divorced spouse benefits. I’m guessing it would, but please check with the folks at social security to find out for sure. And if you can, get them to give you the specific citation to the paragraph of their manual that applies. That way, they won’t just tell you something off the top of their head, they will have to look it up to give you the citation.

      1. Hi Gina,
        Did what you said and I was informed that WEP only applies from your own working credits that you have earned and I have not earned any in my own right so it doesn’t apply, I am classed as the auxiliary recipient – appreciate your help.

  4. If a woman stays in a relationship for nine years and seven months but can stay no longer due to severe emotional abuse, does she still lose all home of getting Social Security benefits?

    1. Social Security is not interested in how long you stay in a relationship. To receive divorced spouse benefits you must be MARRIED for at least 10 years. They don’t care if you were separated for a long time before you divorced, or lived together before you got married, or any of that. They just care about the date you got married and the date your divorce was final.

  5. Question my mom was entitled to receive money from her divorce husband if he either retired from work or if he died since they where married over 30 years but my mother just passed away last month and her ex spouse is retired is she still entitled to the money or will it go to her next of kin. Or no since she’s passed she gets nothing. Please help just want to know and understand.

    1. If her divorce agreement provided that she was to get a portion of his retirement account, then she needed to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order served on the plan administrator. That tells the plan administrator that part of the plan is hers. If she didn’t name a beneficiary for that plan, then it likely is payable to her estate. Contact the plan administrator for the plan to find out. If she didn’t file the QDRO, then the plan administrator doesn’t know that part of the plan was to go to her, so they are making payments to her ex-spouse for the part she or her beneficiary should be getting. You’ll likely need to get a court order to have him pay what he’s received to the rightful owner and to put a freeze on him getting any more of her share of the plan until a QDRO can be prepared and filed.

      1. Thank you but I have another question how will I contact the plan administrator . Will I have to contact her ex husband job to talk to the plan administrator because before she passed she only told me that the divorce lawyer said she was entitled to s9me of his benefits but she didn’t go into detail so I’m trying to get things done on her behalf because she was my mother. And again thank you for your help

        1. If there was a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, you can contact the administrator directly as the representative of your bother’s estates. (the employer can tell you who that is). If there was no QDRO, then the plan administrator will not talk to you, and you will have to get a QDRO drawn up and served on the plan administrator to identify your mom’s interest in the plan. The QDRO preparer would refer to the terms of the divorce agreement, so you’ll need to have a copy of that, from the courthouse or your mom’s attorney.

  6. Would the 10 year rule apply to the below example, To receive divorced spouse social security benefits. For the below same husband and wife to each other.
    Married September 16, 2010 USA
    Legally Separated May 15. 2013 USA
    Divorce May 2, 2014 USA
    Married July 10, 2015 USA
    Legally Separated December 5, 2015 USA
    Divorce August 18, 2020 USA
    Plan on getting married Jan 20, 2021

    1. If you are married at the time you receive social security benefits, then those benefits will be based on your own benefits or spousal benefits on the record of your spouse. If you are divorced at the time you receive social security benefits, but were married to the same person three times, this is how it works. If to the same person, two marriages to the same person with a divorce in between can be combined to satisfy the 10-year rule if the remarriage took effect in the calendar year following the divorce. If you were married to the same person the first two times, first marriage was 3 yr 7+ mo. Second marriage 5 years 1+ months. So that’s 8 years 8+ months. If you are marrying that same person for the third time on 1/20/21, and you will need to stay married for at least 1 year 4+ months.

  7. Hi,

    My parents were married for over ten years. They have been divorced for a long time. My mom is 63. If she applies for divorced spousal benefits now, does she get a reduced amount? Will it be better to wait until “full” retirement age? what age is that? Thank you!

    1. Hello I’m going through a divorce 10 yrs plus to military husband our seperation agreement says I am not entitled to survivors benefits does that include social security benefits when I turn 62? Does it mean I cant collect?

      1. Nothing you put into your divorce agreement affects social security benefits. Your divorce agreement is under state law, but social security is by operation of federal law. Survivor benefits is a term related to military retirement, not social security.

  8. Hello, if my first marriage lasted 9 years and 6 months and I got remarried to someone else, will my ex spouse be eligible to collect even the marriage was 6 months shy of 10 years?

    1. To receive divorced spouse social security benefits, one needs to be married for at least ten years. Therefore neither of you can collect benefits based on your former spouses. In addition, since you are remarried, you would not be eligible to collect divorced spouse benefits even if your first marriage had lasted a full ten years.

  9. My mother is 82. Her and my dad were married for 13 years and were divorced back in 1971. He recently passed away and we just discovered she was collecting her own social security which is much lower than she would have gotten than if she had claimed his. Is it too late for her to go back and see about claiming a survivor’s benefit based on his account? If we can’t find the original marriage license and divorce paperwork is there another way to show they were married for the required 10 year period?

    1. She needs to contact Social Security right away and get those benefits started. They can pay up to six months back benefits, so hopefully she hasn’t missed much. And they can tell you what documentation she will need to show she was married for 10 years. It might be just the date of marriage and the date of divorce.

      1. Thank you! My dad just passed away early in July so for survivor benefit there would not be any back pay. I will call the SSA office tomorrow and see if I can get them to talk to me. Mom won’t be able to make sense of it and we don’t live in the same city to go with her to the office. She did find the marriage license and is now digging for the divorce decree. Thank you again!

    2. Would I be eligible to get my ex husband’s social security if I’m drawing ssi an im just 55 if we was only married 9 year an 7 months an he is deceased

  10. Hi dont know if my message got to you ? But as I was saying in my first message. I had been married twice . My first marrage lasted 18 Yrs we got a Divorce. And seven yrs. Later I got remarried , and 13 yrs later my 2nd. Husband died. I found out I was able to get widows SS from my second husband. At that time. So I started getting it. He has been gone for 4 Yrs. Now. And my first husband is now retiring. So my question is can I draw SS. From my first husband now since he is retiring and I am 62 yrs. Now ?

    1. You can get the greatest benefit you are entitled to, which in your case will be the widow benefit from husband #2 or the divorced spouse benefit from husband #1. Since the widow benefit is equal to 100% of what H2 entitled to and the divorced spouse benefit is only 50% of what H1 is entitled to, I’m guessing the widow benefit is higher.

  11. I started receiving early reduced SS at 62 out of necessity after losing my job. I was married over 20 years – ex spouse is the same age as I am. We are now 67 and he hasn’t filed yet. Is it possible to collect on his SS benefits now that he is past full retirement age or am I locked in at my reduced benefits?
    Thank you for any information on the subject.

      1. I was married for 30 years.. divorced now 7.
        However, he wants to buy another house… with me (a larger house as I am taking care of our adult child with disabilities) I am 50, and ex husband is 60.
        If I move in with him ( not marry him) only live together share responsibility of our adult child. Will I lose my social security benefits from him? I’ve never worked outside of the home. I will be depending on his social security as I get older.

        Thank you.

        1. Yes you can collect divorced spouse benefits based on his earnings record if those benefit exceed those based on your own record. If you begin benefits earlier than your full retirement age of 66+ your benefits will be reduced.

  12. I divorced my husband after 31 yrs. i then remarried a year later. From what I am finding out I won’t be able to draw social security from my ex because I remarried. Now do I have to be married to my current husband for 10 yrs to draw off of him. I was 55 when I married my current husband. Do I have to wait until I’m 65 to draw off of him? That would be ten yrs then.

    1. Once you and your husband both reach retirement age of 62 or older, and he begins receiving social security benefits, then you will be eligible to receive spousal benefits. There is no requirement that you be married for 10 years in order for this to happen.

  13. Pingback: Understanding Social Security Survivor Benefits After Divorce | The Next Chapter

  14. I was a homemaker for 34 years. My husband was imprisoned for domestic violence. He’s still there. I turn 62 in 2019.

    What are my options? I do not have enough credits to receive benefits on my own. If I wait until he dies, will I get more? ( his health is terrible) if I wait will I get more whether he dies or not? or I stuck with 600 minimum which someone told me?

    1. You will be eligible to collect spousal Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s earnings history, once he applies for benefits. If he dies, you’ll be able to collect widow benefits based on his earnings history. Those benefits will be roughly twice as much as spousal benefits.

  15. I lived with my ex as common law for 2 yrs prior to a civil ceremony after which we were married for 9 yrs and 3 months. Total time together was over 11 years. Can I still claim social security benefits on my ex’s social security account?

    1. You will need to show that your common law marriage was a valid common law marriage in your state. To prove a common law marriage to Social Security so that you’ll be eligible for dependents or survivors benefits, first make sure that common law marriages were permitted at the time in the state in which you were common law married. If so, then you must both provide statements that affirm your marriage and you must provide a statement from a blood relative of each of you that affirms that.

  16. I don’t seem to be able to get a straight answer to the following question: Both my husband and I are in our late 70s and on Social Security. We are drawing on our own work record, but if my husband should predecease me, and because his benefit is greater than mine, can I draw his amount if I give up mine?

  17. I was married for 34 years before my husband died I am collecting his ss. I remarried and have been married 7 1/2 years He was married for 34 years and divorced. If the man I am married to now ,dies am I eligible to collect 100% on his ss, which is more then my first husbands ss.

  18. I moved to the US from Canada with my husband. After two visas ended we received our green card. We are legally separated now and will divorce a year from now. I have lived in the US 14 years now, but my adult children and siblings all live in one area in Canada and obviously I will want to return there to retire. Will this impact my ability to receive the SSI from my husband (who intends to stay in the US)?

  19. Carmelo Gonzalez

    If i have been living as a couple for 7 years and have 5 of married, a total of 12 years, now we are getting divorce, i just want to know if im entitle to file for ss.

  20. Ginita, I was married in Colorado and we divorced after 25 years. I now live outside of the United States. I am over 65. Can I receive my ex-husband’s social security benefits if I am now living in a common-law relationship? Is common-law considered equal to marriage in this context?

    1. If the state in which you were married recognizes common law marriages and you did all the steps called for in that state to be common law married, then it is likely that you are married. Many people use the term more loosely, and in that case. you would not be married for social security purposes.

  21. kambiz sharifpour

    Hello.
    My question is on derivative benefits. As a us citizen getting us ex spouses benefit.
    1- I am not suppose to be remarried to another US citizen?
    or
    2- Can the person marry a NON US citizen and live in another country still collect on us ex spouses benefits?
    Thank you for your time.

  22. my husband died and my sin didn’t tell me fir 2 yrs,,,we were estranged and that caused me to not know about his passing,, just found out I am not to retroactive payments.. to the tune if 65,000 dollars ,, can get that money back?

    1. If you are talking about social security payments, they will be paid retroactively for six months if you apply for them. If you were receiving benefits and the social security administration had information that you were married to your husband and had his social security number, they ordinarily would have notified you that you were due these payments within a few months after his death. If they did not, then you may have a legal claim for those benefits (though I’m not an attorney so you’d need to consult one to find out for sure.) If you had not applied for benefits, or had failed to tell them you were married and give his information, then they would not have had any way to connect those dots.

  23. I was married to kids Dad 26 years -Divorced from him in 1995– Remarried in 1996 and was married 18 years divorced in 2012 — Now still single at age 65 and waiting till march my Birthday to receive full social security at 66–I want to know if I can receive benefits at 100% from both –OR 50% from each and let mine unclaimed till 70 years of age –Mine will be much less than both because I only worked from age 17 till about 41 years of age

    1. Once you apply for benefits, they will pay you the greatest benefit to which you are entitled: your own, or divorced spouse benefits equivalent of 50% of what your ex is entitled to receive on his earnings record, whichever of the three is highest.

  24. Bonnie Parmenter

    i was married 18 years to my first husband and he made much more than me, I was married for 13 years to my second husband and he made less than me. I am still working and I now am paid much more than my first husband. Can he collect derivatives from my Soc. Sec?

    1. Since you were married for 10 years or longer, your former spouse is eligible for divorced spouse benefits based on your earnings record if those benefits exceed his own. Divorced spouse benefits are the equivalent of 50% of what your benefit would be. And it doesn’t reduce what you actually get.

  25. Thank you for your reply. But unfortunately that is not the case. I am living substandard as of now. I only get 205 dollars a month. When I did apply for social security, the lady that I had a phone interview with told me. That if I could collect from my ex-husband. I would be getting a substantial amount more each month. I will keep trying. I still can’t belive they will not let me collect from my ex-husband. Because I fall 11 days short of being married 10 years. But thank you for the info

  26. Maybe you could please give me a little advice here. I started collecting social security last year. I tried to collect from my ex-husband. But unfortunately for me our divorce became final 11 days before we would of been married for 10 years. The people I talk to at the social security office told me. No its not our problem. I mean how is this fare? Is there any legal way I can fight this?

    1. In order to receive divorced spouse benefits, you must have been married for at least 10 years, and you were not. Even if you were, it is possible that your own benefits exceed the divorced spouse benefits, so it wouldn’t have made a difference.

    1. When you reach retirement age, you can collect your own social security retirement or widow’s benefits based on his earnings history, whichever is greater. Those retirement benefits will replace the disability benefits.

  27. The problem may be that to file a restricted benefit application you must not have received benefits on your own record. But ask to speak to a supervisor and discuss it with them.

  28. I am 68 (married for 12 years; divorced and never remarried for the next 37). I filed for SS when I turned 62. I was told that I would be receiving my own benefits as they were greater than the percentage of my ex’s. I did not realize (and was not informed) that, if I waited until my FRA, 66, I could file a restricted claim which would allow me to receive 50% of my ex’s SS, allowing my SS to accrue delayed retirement credits. I actually returned to the SS office to suspend my payments when I turned 66, and still no mention was made of the restricted application. Two of your replies (7/14/15 and 7/16/15) specifically state that “once you are full retirement age you can change to a benefit that pays you less than you were receiving.” I went to the SS office today and they said I can not receive ex-spousal SS benefit for the next two years. I have spent the day trying to find proof that I can. Could you please direct me to documentation that I can provide to my local SS office regarding this? THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    1. There was a change in law in Oct 2015 that took effect 4/30/16. Under the new law, you can still voluntarily suspend benefit payments at full retirement age in order to earn higher benefits for delaying. But during a voluntary suspension, you cannot continue receiving other benefits (such as spousal benefits) on another person’s record. The new law applies to individuals who request a suspension on or after April 30, 2016.

      1. Thank you for such a prompt response. I voluntarily suspended benefit payments two years ago, in November of 2015. I believe the new law does not apply to me. If this is true, can’t I apply for ex-spousal, reduced benefits under the old law? And if so, how can I prove this to the local SS office? Thanks again.

  29. My boyfriend of 8 years is ill and working on his will. The question of social security has come up. We understand that his ex-wife can claim 100% of his SS in 6 years, when she turns 62. If we were to get married, would she still be able to collect? Would I be eligible to receive all of his benefits?

    1. If you get married and he dies, you would be able to collect widow benefits if you were married for 9 months or longer before his death. His former spouse would be eligible to collect surviving divorced spouse benefits if they were married for 10 years or longer and she is at least 60.

  30. This is on behalf of my mother, She is 57 years old when can she apply for the divorced spouse benefits if the qualifying age is 62? and is this a long process waiting for approval?

  31. I have a Question we married December 2007 and got divorced March 15th 2011 and remarried eachother June 7th 2011 and are still married as of today. so we were only divorced a few months. Does this still count as 10 consecutive years together?

    1. If you are divorced, the benefits you receive based on a former spouse’s earnings history are called divorced spouse benefits. If you are married, they are called spousal benefits. They are computed the same way.

  32. I am 63 years old and thinking about retiring from my job. My x and I was married 13 years before the divorce. He has retired from his job and is drawing his social security. He say it was put in our divorce decree that I cannot draw off his social Security. I do not have a copy of the decree on hand right now. Does the divorce decree stop me from drawing off his social security.

    1. Nothing in a divorce decree can prevent you from applying for and receiving divorced spouse benefits. They are by operation of federal law, and your divorce decree is a state document that cannot limit those benefits.

  33. I was married to my first husband 17yrs it ended in 1999 then remarried same year and have been married 18yrs but divorcing, What, if anything am I entitled to even if He Scr**wd me over with not having to pay because a QDRO wasn’t filed, I didn’t know about it and my lawyer didnt’ mention it. (He’s passed away and couldn’t explain his divorce settlement to the judge when I tried to get it) First husband is remarried also but not sure of how long, prob. 10yrs or so. And any advice on filing right the second time not to short change myself.

    1. If you were awarded a portion of his retirement plan in your first marriage, file the QDRO as soon as possible. If your former spouse has already collected what was rightfully awarded to you, then you probably have a claim against him and his assets. Talk to an attorney right away. As for the divorce you are now facing, get legal advice on what is yours, be sure that it is awarded to you in the divorce agreement, and then take whatever steps you need to in order to get it transferred into your name, including filing a QDRO if necessary.

  34. My husband is 61. He was married to his first wife for 12 yrs. I have been married to hi for 10 yrs. I’m considering divorce will I be entitled to his social Security benefits. If so then at what age.

      1. I’m on disability,my ex husband is deceased.ive remarried and divorced,am I able to get any of his Ssi benefits we were married for over 18 yrs and have 5 grown children. Thanks

        1. SSI is for low income poeple, to supplement their income, and so a deceased person doesn’t have SSI benefits for you to receive. You may qualify if your income is low, and you’ll have to check with Social Security to find out what the rules are.

  35. My Step mom says she can’t collect my dad’s SS benefits due to her having an Ohio School Pension. My dad has passed away and she could use that SS but we are told because of the Pension she is not eligible. Is this true?

  36. I am 67 still working,and drawing ss. Was married 18 years. He now draws ssi and military bebefits at his death,receive anything at all

    1. At his death, your social security may increase if the benefit he may draw is greater than yours, since at that point you will step into his shoes as surviving divorced spouse. Until then, you will receive the greater of your own benefit or divorced spouse benefit equivalent to 50% of the benefit computed on his earnings record. As for military benefits, you’ll need to consult your divorce agreement to swee what you were awarded, if anything.

  37. I was married for 21 years to my first husband. My second husband and I were married for two years. He wants to remarry. Would I have to be married to him for ten years before I could collect on his social security?
    I am 62 and he is 66.

    1. Yes. If you and he divorce, you’ll end up getting the greater of divorced spouse benefits under your first husband’s history or your own benefits, whichever are greater. If you don’t divorce, you’ll get spousal benefits when your current husband retires or your own benefits, whichever is greater.

  38. Every time I call the ss admin I get a different answer. I hope you can help me. My husband went on disability in 2014 when he had a stroke. He has multiple diseases. This really devastated us because he was in charge of our money while I was caring for our moms. We’ve been married 38 years with children. He just turned 65 last summer. Now he just sits around all day watching porn, while I go to work. I just found this out within the last several months. I would like to leave him but I’m not sure if I can make it on my own as his check is quite high so our money together helps pay the bills. I started collecting social security last year early at age 62 because we needed the money badly as I was recovering from a broken shoulder (rotator cuff). I would have liked to have waited but we were not in the financial position to do so, coming out of bankruptcy. My question is this. One person at the ss admin told me if I divorce him, I will need to wait 2 years to get on his benefit and then it will be calculated at a lesser rate than the normal 50% because I took my retirement at such an early age. Is this true? Also, if he passes away after our divorce would I then quality for the 100% rate of his benefits as a survivor or would I still get stuck with a calculated rate. I hate to sound so crass or uncaring but he has been uncaring towards me for many years now and I kind of got stuck due to different circumstances.. Any info you give me would be very helpful. Thanks.

    1. Here’s the rule for divorced spouses: If you are recently divorced and your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits yet, you’ll need to wait two years after your divorce to file. There’s no waiting period if your ex-spouse has already applied. And yes, since you began collecting early, your benefits will be reduced no matter whose record you collect on, your own or your [divorced] spouse’s.

  39. I am asking a question on behalf of a lady friend. She was married for 10 years to a lawyer in Ohio. They had an incredibly bitter divorce, with the ex-spouse lawyer taking extreme legal measures to ensure she received as little as possible in the settlement. I informed her that she is eligible to collect on his SS benefits. She had no idea. Her first reaction was, he probably crafted the settlement to prohibit her from collecting any of his SS benefits. My question is: Is it possible for her spousal SS benefits to be legally excluded in a divorce settlement?

  40. I was married for 10 years and then divorced. I remarried for 9 years to another man and we are divorced. I have been single for 9 years now. I am 60 years old. The first husband died 8 years ago of cancer. Since I am single can I collect any benefits on the first ex husband ?

    1. To claim divorced spouse benefits you must have been married for 10 years, be single, and be at least 60 years old. So yes, it sounds as though you qualify for reduced benefits(reduced benefits unless you wait until full retirement age of 66).

  41. I was married for over 33 years and we divorced, 2009 spouse remarried a year after divorce. I just married oct 4 2014 will I be able to collect any of his social security.

    1. You are eligible to collect spousal benefits based on your new husband’s earnings history when you are both of retirement age and he begins collecting. If you remarried at age 60 or older, and your former spouse dies, you will be eligible to collect surviving divorced spouse benefits if those are greater. If you divorce, you will be eligible to collect divorced spouse benefits on Husband #1 when you reach retirement age.

  42. I am interested in the 10 year married rule. I was married on 3/24/79 and divorced on 12/21/88. My official 10 year anniversary would have been 3/24/89. Since i was married for the greater part of the tenth year , do I qualify for ex spouse benefits when i reach 66?

  43. Please help. I can’t find answers to my specific question. I will be 60 years old in a few months. I was married for 29 years (divorced in 2007) and have not remarried. My ex-husband was deceased in 2012 at age 54. I understand I can receive Survivor Benefits from his SS…at 100% from what I understand, but most articles say he had to be collecting SS at the time of his death. Obviously he was too young to collect. He had a very high income and I didn’t work for many years of our marriage. Please advise on what and when I am able to collect on his SS. Thank you.

  44. My question is; my ex-husband has been remarried twice since we divorced. I was his first wife and I have (2) sons by him but, they are grown now and they are his only children. Would they be able to claim social security benefits?

  45. QUESTION:

    Lived together as partners with my now ex-husband from 1978-1982, got married in ’82 and divorced in 1989 -is that sufficient for ’10 yr’ requirement for derivative benefits?

  46. hi there i have this problem with my family my brother was married from 1975 to 1994 with first wife with two kids, then re married an live together second wife from 1994 to his die 2016 one kid witch they really love him so much the second wife has to deal with him from he’s sickens about 14 years lots of health issues she never complaint she love it same the daughter they really do more than any one should do he die from aggressive cancer, they have problems to collecting the money to he’s funeral and you know haw they go
    they have receive the help from disability but now he die, they found out now that the previous wife collecting the money from SS and have apartment that was suppose for him, my other niece ask her for dead certificate and rush, basic her sister, i think its not right but i done know what the second wife can’t do they leave in rental apartment she really need help its older to and to me she deserves more than the first one please guide me to able to help her, thank you for you time

    1. Your post is unclear as to what benefits each wife is receiving and why. Social security retirement benefits are available to divorced spouses who were married for longer than 10 years, and widowed spouses. Children social security benefits are available to the minor children, and if the mother stays at home to care for them, she may get benefits as well. She can contact the Social Security office to see what benefits she may be eligible for. That should be her focus, not what the previous spouse is receiving.

  47. Hi! So I am only 34 so right now this doesn’t really apply to me but my question is my ex husband and I were divorced just about 8 months shy of 10 years. It was still in the same calender year tho that would have made 10 years for us. How does this work? If divorce was a few months shy does that mean I won’t be eligible to claim off his or would it mean since we were married from 2004 to 2014 that that’s how it counts and I would be eligible?
    Thanks!

  48. I was married 20 yrs to my x husband, He and I both remarried. He was married to her for 7 months before he past away, will either of us be eligible to receive his social security?

  49. If my ex-wife receives part of my Civil Service pension that is affected by Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and I’m eligible for social security, will her social security benefits be reduced too?

    1. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects only those who worked under a retirement plan and were not covered by social security during those years. So it would affect your former spouse only if she worked under a Civil Service plan.

      1. Hopefully I am sending this to Ginita Wall. Please help.
        I was married for 38 years to Husband A. I raised 3 of his children and one from my marriage to him. Then I got brave and divorced him and finally left an abusive relationship (at that time he was 71 and I was 59). After managing to support myself for for a few years, at 65 I married a wonderful man (Husband B) and am still married to him. I started drawing SS benefits at 64 (apparently at a less than full retirement amount).
        Then about 2 years into my marriage to Husband B, he convinced me to file with SS to receive a nominal increase in my benefit off his SS record – as I understand it.
        About 9 months ago, I received word that Husband A died, so I filed for surviving divorced spouse benefit. Initially SS gave me an increased benefit amount. Then after receiving the first check, SS advised me that my benefit amount was being changed back to what I had before because they should not have given the increased amount to me.
        I appealed. The “local” SS office researched my situation, and stated that I was entitled to the increased amount. However, after 9 months of checking the status, etc., of the appeal with the national SS office, the national office still has not responded. “We are still working on your appeal.” I think that a person at the national office decided to reverse SS’s initial decision – based on the fact that I was “remarried”. Today Husband B and I are both 73.
        However, as I understand the Code – since I was “over 60 when I remarried”, then I that enables me to receive the increased benefit amount.
        Also, a source told me that I could receive a benefit from my present spouse (Husband B) and a surviving divorced spouse (sum of the two). And they may be other factors that I an unaware about.
        Can you please advise me?

        1. It is my understanding that you can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits from Husband A, since you remarried after age 60, if it is greater than any other benefits to which you are entitled. You receive the highest of the amount from your two hustands or your own work record.

  50. I believe this SS remarriage example to ex spouse clarifies that the 10 years means 10 Calendar Years in a row.

    RS 00202.005 Divorced Spouse
    A. Policy — general
    A divorced spouse must:
    • be finally divorced from the NH; and
    • have been married (as defined in RS 00202.001A.1.) to him or her for a period of at least 10 years (for benefits prior to 1/79, the requirement was 20 years) immediately before the date the divorce became final. For benefits payable prior to 1/1/91, the 10-year duration must be based on a legal or putative marriage. However, after 12/31/90, credit can be given for a deemed marriage towards the 10-year period.
    This requirement is met if the divorce became final on or after the 10th anniversary of the marriage. This is so even if this period was interrupted by a prior divorce, provided the remarriage took place no later than the calendar year immediately following the calendar year of the divorce. Even when this requirement was not met with respect to the claimant’s last divorce, she or he may qualify based on a 10-year period of marriage immediately before a prior divorce.
    EXAMPLE: Robert, who married Lois on 5/6/80, was divorced 5/2/86. On 7/7/87, they remarried but were again divorced 9/5/90. The 10-year requirement is met. However, if Robert and Lois had remarried in 1988 instead of 1987 and were divorced again on 9/5/90, the 10-year requirement could not be met. The marriage must be in existence in each of the 10 years before the final divorce in order for the claimant to be entitled.

  51. Hi Ginita. I was divorced after 8 years of marriage. I did not work during that time or prior to the marriage. I know I do not qualify for derivative benefits at retirement. My question is: do the qualifying quarters of work my ex husband accumulated during the marriage count for me as well or do I lose that since the marriage lasted less than 10 years? Thank you for your help and guidance.

  52. I’m a 69 yr old single female that’s been collecting SS since I turned 62 and it’s based on my income because of the reduction due to early retirement. I was mostly a stay at home mom for most of our 25 yr marriage so my wages are considerably less than my ex who was an engineer for one of the Big 3. My ex is 1 1/2 yrs younger than me and remarried soon after the divorce. He took a “Golden Parachute” retirement in his late 50s but I don’t know at what age he started taking his SS benefits. If he were to die, would I then be eligible for whatever SS payment he is receiving or could it be reduced further since I took my SS at 62?

  53. When I asked the Social Security office about this, they said there was no such thing, and I would not be able to collect anything from my X husband if I divorced him. I am 61

    1. I’m not sure what you asked them about — perhaps you didn’t use the term divorced spouse benefits and they were not clear about what you were asking. You are too young to collect benefits at age 61, since you are not of retirement age.

  54. penny hutchinson

    I just got a divorce been married for 34 years he’s remarried and is 60 years old I am 57 can I draw his Social Security and how can I find out if he’s drawing his

  55. I’m confused as to what I will be able to get. I was married 27 years and then divorced. When I got to draw how much will I get from my record and how much will I get from his record. Will both records equal 100% of his total or will I only get 50% of his total and none of mine?

    1. 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. The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record and divorced spouse’s benefits, they will pay your retirement benefit first. If the benefit on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you will get an additional amount on your ex-spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

      1. I have been married 44yrs. My spouse said if I get divorced that I would get all of his social security. We do argue 50% of the time. I worry about income. Is there any truth to this? Thank
        you.

        1. Read the article “What You Need to Know about Social Security after Divorce” above. It says that you are entitled to social security benefits based on your own earnings history, or based on his earnings history (equivalent to 50% of what he qualifies to get), whichever is greater. If he dies, you will get your own benefit or an amount equal to 100% of his benefits, whichever is greater. He still gets his full benefits.

  56. Carol Weatherby

    I was married in the state of CT in 1981. I was a stay-at-home mom (worked part time at retail/grocery stores, started my own home day care, and was a student) for the first 17 years of our marriage and then worked as a public elementary school teacher in CT for 16 years. My (hopefully) soon-to-be ex has worked for 19 years in a “20-years-and-out” hazardous duty position for the state of CT. Our 3 children are grown and have been living on their own for years. We own a home together in CT; I believe he has been making the mortgage payments since I moved to WA state in September 2015.

    I’m trying to reach an amicable arrangement for a legal separation or divorce, but he does not want to share (50-50) his state pension with me, even after I stated I’d give him the house and share my teacher retirement (50-50) with him.

    My questions:
    1. He will be turning 55 years old in September. Can he “retire” and start drawing his pension without my consent?
    2. Am I legally entitled to some of that pension, whether or not he agrees to share it with me?
    3. Our house is only half paid-off. If I decide to file for divorce in WA state and ask the courts to determine how all of our assets and liabilities are distributed, will the WA courts have jurisdiction to do so? Or must I file in CT?

    1. If he is eligible for retirement, in most states he can retire and begin collecting on his pension, even though he is separated from his spouse. Since he is married, he would have to elect a joint and survivor benefit, meaning that when he dies you continue getting payments. If you file for divorce in Washington and have him served, then it is that state’s laws that will apply in the divorce.

  57. I have 14 months until full retirement age, and I plan on taking my husbands. My question is….if I decide to apply before my full reirement age, and I continue to work, will I receive enhancements from working, since I took ssi before full retirement?

  58. Margaret Matteson

    My 27 year marriage ended in divorce about 16 years ago and I have not remarried. When I signed up for Medicare at age 65, I was told that I would be able to collect spousal benefits at 66 (my FRA) and delay filing on my record until age 70 allowing my benefit to grow significantly. With my 66th birthday three months away, I went in to file for retirement benefits and was told that the new laws effective earlier this year have removed this option. As I read the second blue dialogue box on SS’ “If You Are Divorced” page, I still have this option since I was born before January 2, 1954. Am I correct? If so, how should I phrase my requests. Two employees have insisted that I can only claim my own benefit since it is more that the spousal benefit would be. I have an additional concern should I in fact be able to collect on my ex-husband’s record until age 70. If he used the file and suspend strategy since he was FRA before the new laws went into effect, will spousal benefits to me be frozen?

    1. Tell them that you would like to file for a restricted benefit which you are allowed to do since you were born before 1/2/54. Ask to speak to a supervisor if necessary, and that supervisosr’s supervisor if the supervisor doesn’t know the law either. Your ex-husband filing and suspending shouldn’t make a difference — the legislation implied that it would, and they are in the process of clarifying that wasn’t what they meant to do in passing the law.

    2. Margaret Matteson

      Thank you so much! There must be many people who are not receiving everything they’re entitled to because the laws are so confusing. Poorly trained employees (I’m going to assume they’re not trained to be bullies.) further muddy the waters.

  59. I am 32 and my boyfriend will be 60 in November. He has 2 ex wives. The first wife he was married to for 17 years and the other for 21 I believe. We are planning to marry in 2017. If he passes away before our 10th wedding anniversary. What would we be entitled to. and If he passes away after what would we be entitled to?

    1. Either way, you would be entitled to widow’s social security benefits, which are equal to 100% of what he would have received, once you are 66 (less if you begin taking payments between 60 and 66).

  60. I have a question. MIlitary marriage 13 years … I was contractor became disabled ex husband is active. Somehow they messed up my work credits my sponsorship was under his social. I should be able to claim DIB under his if I don’t have enough. I am not 50 yet . SSI is okay but not sure it is enough. they state if he is dead I can claim disabled at 50 but divorced living not sure. any feedback.

  61. Hi Ginita – I was married 17 years, divorced in 1989, and my ex passed away on 6/7/14. I haven’t married since and turned 62 in March, and I JUST learned that I’d be eligible for survivor benefits. My question is whether I can retroactively claim benefits between his death and applying for benefits now. Thanks!

    1. In general benefits are paid from when you apply. If you apply now, your benefit going forward will be somewhat higher than it would have been if you had applied when you were 60, so it will all even out in the end.

      1. Hi Ginita,

        Now my question is whether my ex husband’s last wife (IF they were married over 10 years – I’m not sure) would also be able to claim the full survivor benefits – or would they be split between her and me?

        Thanks!

        Nancy

  62. I have a question also, I was married for 12 yrs to 1st husband before divorce, he passed away, I remarried at 45, I started collecting Disability around 55…will be 65 soon, not living with 2nd husband and he is on ss, they are switching me onto his, if i divorce 2nd husband can I collect widows pension on 1st?

  63. I am disabled and 45 yrs old, my boyfriend and I have been together for the last 10 years but not married, he is 59 yrs old, how long do we have to be married for me to receive his social security benefits instead of his ex wife who he was married to for just at 10 years. Do we both receive benefits or how does this work?
    Please help me understand and know whether or not it will effect my disability if we are married and I dont receive his social security and if I do receive it after how long of married time?

    Thank you

    1. You must be married for a year to receive social security benefits as his spouse, which you will be by the time you turn 62 and are eligible for retirement benefits. I don’t know the answer to your question about whether marriage will affect your disability payments in the meantime — that’s a question you can ask the Social Security Administration people.

  64. I divorced after 15 years of marriage. I am divorced now 28 years. My ex spouse lived in another state for 26 years before he died approximately 1 year and 7 months ago. He had re married and the second wife died 9 months after he died. I received my Divorce widow benefits added on to my monthly social security. I have now received overpayment letter from Social Security stating I owe over $10,000 in over payment to my deceased ex spouse owes to social security. I am in process of filing a waiver. Any suggestion or words of encouragement? Thanks

  65. I am 93 years old and I collect SS from my deceased 2nd husband.
    That marriage lasted less than 10years.
    I currently receive his benefits.
    my motherinlaw was married to her first husband for over 25 years and then they were divorced. He also remarried and is now deceased as is his 2nd wife. His benefits are more than that of her 2nd deceased husband _ is she eligible for benefits from her first husband???
    thanks thanks thanks
    YOur advice re money and love is very practical but the really good advice is for women to be financially independent! LIfe is certainly easier with financial means and if a woman is financially independent than she can marry a low paid artist for example who may only be able to support himself! YOu can marry for true love without using the term “marry up or marry down” -lots of people have modest means but are rich in love and if they live within those means and save and plan that is a recipe for happiness while marrying just for money is no guarantee of anything!

    1. If she was 60 or older at the time of her marriage to her deceased husband, then she would be eligible to collect surviving divorced spouse benefits from Husband #1, if they exceeded any other benefit to which she was entitled.

  66. We will have been married 10 years in November but if we were to get separated now (not legally divorced) until after November will it still count as 10 years? Or does it go by separation date? Thank you

  67. I was married for 18 years then divorced. My ex-spouse died a couple of years ago. I am 57. Can I start collecting his benefits at 60??

  68. I was married to a man for over 20 years when we divorced in 2005. He passed away after our divorce and was retired and receiving social security benefits at the time. I am 64 and work as an educator. I plan to work another 4 years until I am 68. Can I receive 100% of his social security benefit when I reach age 66, even though I will still be working? When I retire at age 68 and begin receiving a pension, will that social security benefit be reduced because of the pension I earn?

    1. Once you reach age 66, you can begin to collect full surviving divorced spouse benefits, even though you are still working. If your pension was in lieu of paying into the social security system, your social security benefits will be reduced by 2/3 of the pension payments you receive. But if you paid into the social security system while accumulating the pension, there would be no reduction in benefits.

  69. Latisha Nichols

    I am 66, and have been married for 38 years. My husband is 62, and still working and has not filed for SS retirement benefits. I filed for my own benefits when I was 62 and receive a monthly payment of $180 due to being a homemaker most of my married life. Will I be eligible to file for half of my spouses SS when he turns 66, and must he file for his benefits before I can claim for spousal benefits? Any info would be appreciated.

      1. Hi. Married for 37 years then divorced. He remarried now for 17 years. She was married twice before him and she was 57 yrs when the two of them married. I never remarried. Worked for 17 years after divorce. Started drawing my SS at 67 (full retirement age). He draws $2400 a month SS. I draw $1310 monthly. What % will I draw if he dies before me? I never drew off of him because they said that he never said we were married when he started drawing. I gave them copies of my marriage certificate when I started drawing. But they didn’t apply it to my name.
        Seems unfair that I didn’t get to draw off of him when divorced and me being 67. I drew $840 then. He was 62 when he started drawing? Thank you.

        1. You are entitled to the highest benefit, based either on your own earnings record or an amount equivalent to what he would receive based on his earnings record. If they needed proof of your marriage and you provided that, they should be making payments to you based on his record if that is higher. It doesn’t take him corroborating the proof you have already given them. But it sounds as though what you are drawing is approx 50% of what his earnings record would yield, so perhaps you are receiving based on his record and misunderstood. But if he is younger, then you would have had to wait until he reaches social security age to begin drawing, so perhaps that was the issue.

          Anyway, getting back to your question, your payment would probably double if he were to die, since you would collect based on his entire earnings record, not just 50%

  70. I was married for 38 years before being divorced. I started taking my ss at age 66, It appears I could have take my x spouse’s ss, she would have been 62 at the reduce rate. Question. Can I return my payments, I’ve only received 4, and start drawing the benefits of the xspouse and wait until I’m 70 to use my own benefits?

    1. If you are receiving Social Security Retirement benefits and you change your mind about when they should start, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date, as long as you began collecting benefits less than 12 months ago. You will have to pay back the benefits you have received.

  71. I was born in 1956. My ex-husband was born in 1959. I will be 62 before him. Can i get the derivative benefits when I am 62 or do I have to wait until he turns 62?

  72. I was married in 1972 and divorced my husband in 1979 because he had abandoned me for over 5 years leaving me our child to raise alone. If you have to get a divorce do to husband abandonment, placed ads in newspaper,etc., judge granted me a divorce on the grounds of abandonment. I am now totally disabled, age 61 and wondered if I was entitled to any of his Social Security as he has been living in Fla hiding from child support for over 40 years. I received no money for raising his child alone. Since my divorce was due to abandonment and I entitled to any of his social security due to my disability since I was 30 years old. I have been living on SSI since 1995?, i think that is when it started. I hope you can help as my ex husband has been living happily in another state, got remarried and had 2 more kids with her. I would think since I raised his child alone due to his abandment and my divorce granted on those grounds I should be entitled to something from him.

    1. My husband abandoned myself and my children also, then divorced never paid any child support due us. It just seems so unfair that we cannot collect spousal benefits on deadbeat fathers that went on to work leaving us to care for children as well as provide for them financially and emotionally. We suffer the consequences of his inaction so we should be compensated. The 10 year rule does not give any concideration to this circumstance which is very unfortunate

      1. Wait, you were awarded support and he didn’t pay the support that was ordered, and you just shrugged your shoulders and said “oh well”? If that’s the case, that you don’t go after support that is rightfully yours, then yes, you do suffer the consequences of inaction. Yours.

  73. So if I was married for more than 10 yrs and divorced, but have remarried I cannot receive benefits on my ex husband’s record? Is there any way around that?

  74. please forgive me if i have posted to your sight already. im just pulling at straws right now. i will turn 62 in march, i was married in Phoenix Arizona on Nov. 26, 1973,. We were divorced in Morris County NJ. on Im not sure which date i should choose at this point i dont know if it makes a difference one date is Oct. 13, 1982. then there is a docket date of Oct. 25, 1982. when i filed for social security the lady i talked to told me that social security does not recognize common law marriages. even tho we were living together for atleast 7 months before , we went to Arizona and were married. we had 4 daughters together i stayed home cared for out children. the lady told me i would only be getting 288 dollars a month, but if i could collect from my ex husband social security i would be getting a immeasurable amount more. now why would she tell me something like that if i cant collect from him? my question is there anyway i can fight this to collect from my ex husband or am i fighting a lost cause?

    1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

      If you were living in Arizona before you got married, you are out of luck, since common law marriage does not exist in Arizona. If in another state that recognizes common law marriages, then you will need to see if you fully qualified under that state’s requirements for common law marriage. And then you will need to present evidence of that qualification of common law marriage in that state.

  75. I was wondering….I have been married for 33 yrs and in the process of going through a divorce. since I make a lot less then he does and just not yet of retirement age and neither is he but can I claim on his when the time comes if a remarry before that?

  76. Ginita, I started working and paying Soc Sec in 1972 under the “quarter system” where a quarter counted if you earned more than $50. In 1978 the system changed to a yearly count. Are my Substantial Earnings between 1972 and 1978 grandfathered under the quarterly system to where I may have earned some credit?
    According to my earnings record they do not count ANY of the years/quarters prior to when I started earning above the new Substantial Earnings amounts on the chart. As a result I only have 29 years of Substantial Earnings and NONE of my earnings between 1972 and 1977 are counted towards years of service, even though my earnings for 1973-1975 were all above $1000 and well above the $50/month in effect at that time.
    I have spent the last 10 years as a teacher and now it looks like WEP will wipe out a large chunk of what I had counted on to retire.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Substantial earnings in 1972 through 1978 ranged between $2,250 and $4,425, so you can look at your earnings record to see if you had substantial earnings greater than that under social security in those years. If you did, you’ll need to furnish social security proof of those earnings so they can correct their records.

        1. I’m referring to this from the Soc Sec website:

          For years before 1978, an individual generally was credited with a quarter of coverage for each quarter in which wages of $50 or more were paid, or an individual was credited with 4 quarters of coverage for every taxable year in which $400 or more of self-employment income was earned.

          1. Yes, I understand. In order to receive benefits, you need to be covered under social security for at least 10 years, and you are well beyond that. But what you are dealing with is whether you had substantial earnings in various years, so you’ll have to compare your earnings under social security to the minimum required for substantial coverage in each year to see in which years you had substantial coverage.

        2. I’m not sure what “grandfathered” would mean in this context. The question is whether your earnings during those years are substantial, and to determine that you’ll have to compare your earnings under social security to the minimum required to be substantial in each of those years.

          1. Maybe I’m not understanding… prior to 1978 the measurement of “Substantial” was done by quarter, after 1978 it is done by the entire year. While I did not earn enough between 1972 and 1977 to reach the yearly substantial amount, I did earn enough under the old method of measurement to have credit for multiple quarters. So it appears that whatever I earned in those early years is now disregarded because they did not reach the post 1978 yearly requirement. hence my question about credits being grandfathered.

          2. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

            Having 40 quarters of coverage determines whether you are insured under the social security program. It is not the same as “substantial earnings”, which is a measurement that applies to the Windfall Elimination Provision. You can read more at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf

  77. I was marries for 13 years then divorced. I was a homemaker,we filed jointly, I then married a younger man by 7 years younger than me. I am now 64. Can I gets SS from my first husband till my second husband starts to get his.

  78. I was married for 17 years to my ex-h.
    For 3 of those years I was a student, and then for 6 years I was a stay-at-home parent.

    Then I returned to the workforce for 8 years as a relatively low-paid worker in a state government position that was not subject to social security. However I will not receive a pension from that state because I opted for the alternative retirement plan (as a 403b). The value of the 403b was split evenly between us in our divorce.

    Shortly after our divorce I moved to a new state for a new state job. In this job I do pay into SS as well as the pension. I expect to work for about 20 years in this job before retirement (if I am lucky enough to keep it).

    Can you please explain how the WEP will affect my SS benefits (drawn on my own record or, more likely on his since his income is significantly higher than mine)?

    Thank you!

    1. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces your social security benefits if not much of your employment history was under the social security system. If you end up with a significant career under social security system, then the reduction should be minimal. If you receive a government pension, then under the Government Pension Offset (GPO) your spousal benefit from his social security would be offset by 2/3 of your government pension. If you don’t receive a government pension, then that will not affect you.

  79. HI,

    Divorced after 12 years. Plan on taking spouse benefits at a reduced rate at 62. My ex- has SS and PERS retirement. How does PERS affect the amount I would get in SS benefits? Is this WEP?

  80. Hi,
    My name is Elizabeth or Liz for short. My husband is still living with me. It will be 6 years since we married, but Ive become disabled. Since then he has been treating me really bad, to the point that he has beat me up and ended up in jail. Since we cant drop charges anymore the court filed charges against him for assault on a disabled person, but i refused to testify and since we have a 6 year old and my daughter witnessed every thing dcf has gotten involved because theyre claiming mental abuse on my daughter because of him. So the question is if i file for divorce can i file for alimony and full custody of my daughter. I can still manage to take care of my daughter on my own and i have an older daughter that is 21 that helps me.

  81. Hi.
    I am currently on permanent disability, and will be receiving money through my ex-husband’s 401k. I was going to withdraw this money, in order to send my son to grad school, and pay bills. However, it occurred to me that, since taxes would be taken out, it would appear on my Income Tax. Will withdrawing money from my QDRO affect my SSD?

  82. I have filed for divorce with my husband in Texas. He rarely worked for the 20 yrs of marriage and we have no kids together. He might try to get my pension and cashed in 401. If he fights for this, do I have right to not give him my pension? I worked non stop. He quit job after job with no medical reasons.

    1. I’m sorry, but we aren’t attorneys and we are not familiar with the laws of your state, so we don’t know what your husband is entitled to under the laws of your state. Please consult with an attorney who can answer your questions.

  83. Concerned soon to be ex.

    So, my wife and I have been married for 8 years and we are getting separated. I care about my wife and want to make sure she’s taken care of but we just have not been very compatible as a married couple (better friends than husband and wife). My question to you is: If we decide not to divorce for another 2 years and she collects 50% of my SS what will that do to my benefits? Will I only collect 50% of my stated monthly amount?

  84. I am 61 yrs old. My first husband and I were married 20 yrs. If,I take,SS when I am 62 I understand that I get mine or 50% of his, whichever is greater. By that formula I am pretty sure what mine would be greater. He is in very poor health. If I take my SS now at some point passes away can I then claim the survivor SS? Will it be 100% of what he was getting?

  85. I am 59 years old and getting married next year (60) my x husband is still alive and not retired yet, if I am married to my second husband and my first husband dies…am I eligible to collect benefits from his social security as widows benefit?

  86. Age 60. Married twice. Both marriages 12 years. 2nd spouse recently died. I never married after 2nd divorce in 2001.
    I want to retire at 63 and begin taking benefits off of 1st spouse SS earnings.
    Then, at 66, switch to Survivor benefits from deceased ex’s earnings. Will I be reducing the Survivor benefits amount that I would have received, if I am taking “any” SS (mine or 1st spouse) at age 63?
    I was hoping to let Deceased Survivor benefits grow until 66, but was told I will be reducing them by taking any payouts on other spousal account, prior to the 66. Is this true? What is my best option?

    1. If you begin taking benefits before full retirement age of 66, they will pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled, and that benefit will be reduced because you began taking benefits early. But you should begin payments when you need the money, so definitely begin taking benefits when you retire — that’s what they are there for.

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  88. I was married in 1991 and separated in 2000 but my final judgment was signed in 2002 does that make it 10 years for me to be able to collect 50% of his SS benifits?

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  90. I was married for 9 years and my wife filed and received an uncontested divorce. I remarried the same woman after 2 years and was divorced again after 2 years. The first marriage lasted less then ten years and I understand she would not be entitled to collect under my social security. How does the additional two years of marriage affect this rule. Does the 10 year rule add the length of the 2 marriages for entitlement, or is the rule restricted to the individual length of time married, less then 10 years? I believe she remarried for this reason. Worried that I was duped in Florida.

  91. I was married for 10 years. We divorced in 2003. In 2009, he committed suicide. He was 53 years old. Can I file for SS benefits now or do I have to wait until I am at least 60? (I am 56 now.) Or does suicide effect benefits? Or did his parents or siblings possibly already receive SS at the time of his death, and if so, would there be any point in me filing for benefits, at all?
    I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this website!
    Kate

  92. Hi Ginita!

    My husband’s ex–wife wants to file for his social security benefits. Currently gets her own benefits but doesn’t want to work. They were married for 10 years 40+ years ago and she has remarried 10+ times since their divorce but none lasted. My husband and I have been married for 9.5 years now and still married.

    My husband still works and doesn’t want to file fore social security yet. Is she eligible for his benefits and if she does will he automatically have too? Will this affect his benefits when he does file for social security and mine later in life?

    Thank you for your help!
    Laurie

    1. Let his ex do whatever makes sense for her. It doesn’t affect your benefits, and it doesn’t affect your husband’s benefits. She can file for benefits even if he has not yet done so and doesn’t intend to for some time to come. Nothing she does affects his benefits. Nothing she does affects your benefits.

  93. Dear Ginita:

    Thank you for helping answer these questions which seem to have many factors playing into them. I just spoke with a SS representative. I was married 16 years. Divorced in 2006 and have not remarried. I was asking if I could claim any of my ex-husband’s benefits. I believe what the gentleman explained was that since my husband began withdrawing his benefits at age 62 and I am now age 64 and have not applied for benefits that I would only qualify for 41.7% of my ex’s benefit. I think. He gave me the amount my benefit would be at age 64 and if I held off until FRA at age 66. He told me my cap would be 15,720 annually. Here is my big concern. I told the gentleman that I had taken Illinois Teacher’s Retirement pension benefit early and asked if that would count against my ability to collect my full 15,720/year. HE SAID NO, BECAUSE SS AND A TEACHER’S PENSION PLAN ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT SO MY SS AMT WOULD NOT BE EFFECTED. However, some of the websites allude to the fact that former teachers may lose hundreds of dollars when the time comes they are collecting both. Now I am really confused and the SS system answers don’t quite address this question. Your advice and feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. The 41.7% is less than 50% because you propose to begin drawing social security benefits early. Whether you ex is drawing or not and at what age he began shouldn’t impact what you can draw and when.

      The 15,720 is the maximum that you can earn by working if you draw benefits before full retirement age, it isn’t a cap on the benefits you can draw.

      If your teachers wages weren’t covered under social security, then the social security benefits you receive based on your former spouse’s earnings history will be offset by 2/3 of the pension you receive under the teachers plan. That is called the Government Pension Offset (GPO), and the representative at Social Security should have been familiar with it.

      1. Thank you Ginita. Just got some heartbreaking news. I took Illinois Teacher’s Retirement early because I was in desperate straights. I did not retire out of an Illinois school district. I was living and working in TX and had not taught for a number of years. Because I retired at 62 with only 10 years of teaching I only receive a monthly pension of about $1400 – the cost of my insurance. So net is ~ 1260/month. All the years paying into Social Security–does this mean I cannot draw any SS because of drawing Illinois Teacher’s Retirement?? I’m about to slash my wrists here. Or, could I draw SS off 1/3 of my former spouses earnings? My God these systems of the maximum you can earn by working is obscene. So all these years slaving between two systems really put me further in the poor house. I don’t know what to do? Do I have any recourse with SS on my ex husbands benefits? How can I be disallowed from drawing any SS when I have only 10 years of teaching time to fall back on? Could I relinquish Teacher Retirement Pension if SS will give me more to live on upon retirement? Thank you. I can usually calm myself with meditation and let go of pain and stress, but it won’t work on this. I appreciate your feedback.

        1. Don’t slash your wrists just yet. Your previous post was all about collecting divorced spouse benefits, and you didn’t say you had worked under the social security system. But this post seems to say that you paid into Social Security yourself for years. If that is the case, you can likely collect all of your Social Security benefits plus your teacher’s retirement. There may be a small adjustment to your social security benefits if the amount they have quoted you on your earnings statement is enhanced because you had relatively few years of covered wages, but that would be just to remove the enhancement.

          1. OH thank you sooo much. I realized I have only dull knives. Yes, I have worked under the SS system many years. And, additionally I worked 10 years in TR pension system. OMG this means I can continue to pay for my meds + eat. What a service this is. I have to examine your website more closely. Are you a non-profit? Or not for profit? This is a service I would send a contribution for. Otherwise I may never have tried to collect. Many, many thanks from a very grateful woman. Bless y’all for the work you do.

  94. If I have been married since May 1999 but separated in May 2007 but still lived together on and off until the end of 2009. On August 13th 2015 I received divorce papers and they state we separated in 2007 and lived separate and apart since may 2007 which isn’t the case we didn’t live separate and apart completely until the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. I am now disabled and filing for disability (I’m 44) my question is does this count as over 10 years since we will be divorcing within the next few months which is 16 years married but we have been separated. I have 2 children 15 and 11 that I have full custody of. He was the head of household so the years I worked went on him but I haven’t been able to work for years. Can I draw from his benfits for the children and myself from my husband or does it start from the date we separated or when our divorce is final? Thank you so much for your help.
    Sincerely,
    Christel

  95. Here’s my situation (which makes me cross-eyed just thinking about it!)

    1. I was married to husband #1 for 17 years. We divorced.
    2. I was widowed when husband #2 died of kidney cancer.
    3. I retired from teaching in Alaska (a state where teachers don’t contribute to Social Security.)
    4. When I retired from teaching in 2011 (I was 61) Social Security advised me to go with my S.S. widow’s benefits from husband #2 (which is reduced by 67% due to my Alaskan teacher pension.)
    5. I’m now 65. Is there ever a point where it might be financially beneficial to checking into husb. #1’s S.S. and switch to that? Is that even an option?
    Thanks for your help!!!

  96. I was married to 1st husband for 12 years. He died in 2014 at age 82. Remarried 2nd husband for 28 years, he never paid into ss or made any income. I was told in the SS office today that I cannot collect on 1st husband’s ss. From what I am reading here that is not true. One problem is I do not have 1st husband’s ss number. How can I get the number to apply, and how can I get past ss workers who do not know the law?

    1. If you are married to 2nd husband, you can’t collect on first husband unless your marriage took place at age 60 or older. If you are divorced from 2nd husband, then you can collect on either record. Don’t worry about your first husband’s social security number — the social security administration already has that, they don’t need to get it from you.

  97. Hi , Ginita Wall , can you please answer this question for me…..
    I was married 1986 with my husband for more than 10 years and he was older than me( born 1937) ,he got disabled in 1994 and was on disability . i was born in 1951and we got divorce in 2002 and then i got marry again in 2004 December at age 54. my ex husband passed away December 2003 he didn’t apply for benefits he was on disability at the time of death.
    Now my husband wants divorce me he is 45 years old and i am almost 64+ . my question is if he divorce me can i get any benefits from my first husband ..(he was getting disability at that time like $1300 per month ) and how long after this divorce occurs i should apply for my first husband benefits as of right now i am getting $800 on my own social security i applied for my own benefits in September 2014. i really need help from you because its really hard for me if my husband divorce me and i know it will be done in month or two . can you just answer this question that when i will be able to apply for ex deceased spouse benefits he didn’t marry after me and i also took care of him until his death and i did all expenses for his funeral. and how much you think i can get the benefit . please give me some suggestion i read you column and see your advise to needy person. please help me what i should do i don’t know nothing about social security that’s why i told you my whole story. and one more thing neither me or my husband and first husband have any kids. none of us has any children.

    I will wait for your reply anxiously,
    with best regards
    Tina

  98. Hi Ginita.

    I have an unusual situation. Me and my ex-husband were married for 24 years, we divorced, never remarried, and he came down several years later with a terminal dementia.

    I was a house wife for over half of our marriage, then worked as a teacher in positions for 18 years that didn’t pay into social security the majority of that time.

    Since it’s time for me to retire now, I was told I would be subjected to the WEP, and it will take half of my SS benefits. My husband worked for over 32 years and has full benefits now, and I wanted to know my options by claiming his over mine, and what happens if he passes.

    Thanks for all your advice!

    1. You could apply for spousal benefits based on your husband’s earnings history,but the benefit you receive will be offset by 2/3 of your teachers pension under the Government Pension Offset (GPO). That may completely eliminate the benefit you would receive based on his earnings history. If he dies you would be eligible for 100% benefits based on his earnings history, rather than 50%, offset by 2/3 of your pension.

  99. Quesrtion: I was married twice and both marriages lasted over 10 years. Can I at 62 collect SS off one ex and then at 66 switch to another?

    1. At age 62 you would be able to collect the largest benefit available to you, reduced because you began collecting early. At age 66 you could switch to the benefit based on the other spouse’s history, but those benefits would be less than the benefit you are receiving, and would be reduced because you began collecting early.

  100. I was married for 11 years before we got divorced. I am retired now and tried to collect off of my ex social security and each time I called they told me I make too much. I would like to know what too much is to them. I am not working at all. I find that so unfair. do you have to be at poverty level before you would qualify to do that? what kind of guide lines do they go by? i am 68 years old . why can some women be eligible and others no!

    1. I can think of two situations in which what you are saying is true:
      1. Your own earnings record provides a benefit that is greater than the divorced spouse benefit for which you’d be eligible, so you are collecting your own benefit instead, or
      2. You are receiving a government pension, such as teachers retirement, public employees’ retirement, etc, and so the Government Pension Offset of 2/3 of your retirement benefit eliminates the divorced spouse benefit. If that is the case, then your pension from a non-social security system is what is keeping you from collecting.

  101. I have reviewed most comments on this site, but have not seen a question that addresses my current issue. My 26 year marriage ended in divorce in 1997. Both of us worked during this time. In October 2013, at age 62, I applied for and received SS benefits on my ex, which included part of his benefit amount. After 16 years of waiting for my ‘true love’ to find me, we both met on a dating site, and quickly fell in love. During this time, we spoke twice with Social Security representatives, and were told I could file on my present husband, who is now 73, and would receive which ever benefits were greater. BUT I had to be married a year before filing on his benefits. We married in January 2014, and a year later, met with SS, took a copy of our marriage certificate and applied. Two days later a Respresentative phoned me on Saturday afternoon to inform me that I had received ex-spousal benefits that I was not eligible for since I had been married a year, and that I now owe SS approximately $3800.00. I filed an appeal. They re-considered and stand by their decision. I have combed the SS websites to see where this regulation is, but to no avail. I have worked with attorneys for many years, and don’t consider myself dumb, have been to court, presented documents, etc. and each time had to cite state or case law to back up what the attorneys had stated in their claims. Please let me know your thinking, as ignorance of the ‘law’ is no excuse, but I can’t find the law. Should I have informed SS as soon as I married? Would my husbands benefits have kicked in then? Is there a one year waiting period? Thanks you for your response.

    1. Yes, you should have informed Social Security as soon as you married, and your husband’s benefits would have kicked in then.

      Here’s the law:
      See this: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202001

      In addition to meeting the relationship requirements above, a claimant must either:

      Have been married to the NH (New Husband) for at least 1 continuous year; or
      Have been entitled to certain auxiliary or survivor’s benefits under the RRA or SS Act in the month before the month of marriage to the NH. This requirement is met if, in that month, he or she had been entitled or potentially entitled to husband’s or wife’s (including divorced spouse’s), widow(er)’s or surviving divorced spouse’s), benefits on the record of a fully insured individual under the provisions of the SS Act.?

      Since you were getting payments before you married, you could have immediately qualified for benefits based on your new husband’s records. So contact Social Security and see how far back they can pay those benefits, and have them offset the benefits against the amount they say you were overpaid.

  102. Michael Latessa

    My mother was married to my father for 25 years. They divorced, she never re- married. He recently passed away. As I was checking on her survivors benefit, I discovered she was receiving SS based on her modest earnings for the past 20 years and not my fathers. Was she entitled to receive SS benefits based on his earnings and if so, can she get those back retroactively? I feel that she was not properly advised when she first applied for her SS benefits 20 years ago. Thank you.

  103. I was married to my first husband over 10 yrs. I am currently married to a different husband over 10 yrs. If my first husband (who is 63 yrs old and never worked) collects on me, will this diminish the amt. my current husband can collect? My current husband is 61 yrs old and wants to wait 5 yrs. when he turns 66 to collect. Is the benefit to both men split? Is one benefit diminished?

    1. It doesn’t matter how many people are collecting on your record, everyone still gets their full benefit, including you. But if your current husband worked, then he will probably collect based on his own record and not spousal benefits on your history, since those benefits are just half of what you are entitled to.

  104. Married for 14 yrs,and he walked out last Tuesday. He receives 1300 a month disability. I work for jcp and bring home roughly 450 every 2 weeks. We have no children and are both 58 yrs old. Am I entitled to alimony?

  105. I have been divorced from my exhusband for 56 years and have just learned of his death.
    I have been told that I am intitled to survivor benifits because we were married for 11years and 7month,
    but I do not have his SS#. His present widow refuses to give it to me, is there some way I can get it?

  106. Marcella R pannone

    To whom this may concern I was married to my first husband for 22 years then got divorced then I got remarried this time i been married so far 6 years and I am thinking of divorcing my second husband. if I get divorced would i be able to collect social security off my first husband.

    Thank you Marcella

  107. I’m 66 and collecting a civil service pension and a military pension from my ex-spouse since I was 62. I will start collecting SS on my own record in November. Will my SS be offset by the pension I’m receiving from my EX-spouse?
    Thank you

  108. I’m 60 years old. My husband retired at 67. We are separating after 40 years of marriage. I have been a fulltime homemaker throughout our marriage….still am. Do I have to wait until I am 62 before I can collect on his social security?

  109. I was married July 21, 2000. My ex filed for divorce July 10, 2010, but our divorce was not finalized until December 2010.

    Is the final date the only one that matters when I reach retirement age?

    Thanks!

  110. Thank you so much for your answer above. Also, another question I need to validate…

    1) I must to wait till I am 66 before I can apply/draw on his SS?

    2) If he were to pass away while incarnated – and never filed – would I qualify for 100% of his SS ?

    3) Would I be drawing on the amount he would qualify for based on his age?

    1. You can collect benefits based on his earnings record as early as age 62. They will pay you the greater of your own benefits or divorced benefits under his record, whichever is greater. If he dies, you’ll get surviving divorced spouse benefits or your own benefits, whichever is greater. If you draw benefits based on his earnings record, you’ll be drawing based on his earnings and your age at the time you begin drawing. If you are younger than full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced accordingly. It doesn’t matter how old he is, as long as he is at least 62.

  111. My ex husband is 68 years old and been incarcerated for several years. He cannot file for SS while he is in prison. We were married 20 years- divorced when he went to prison. I recently remarried at the age of 62. From my understanding, since I was over 60 when I remarried, I could actually receive 50% of my ex husband;s SS when I reach 66. My question is, if he never files for SS, can I still draw on his account when I am 66 if he has never filed? I want to wait till 70 to draw on mine. I am still working and plan to retire at 66… by then he will 70. My second question – if he passes away while incarcerated and never filed, is it possible to draw of his SS?

  112. i lived with my husband for 15 years before we got married. We divorced 5 years later and he died 2 years ago. So may question is can I get his social security even though we were common-law married before we were “legally” married. Need advice, please give me feed back with solutions or any information

  113. Hi, my fiancé is just getting a divorce after 12 yrs, but he claims he didn’t know he was still married because she made him sign divorce papers 8 yrs after being married. But, of course he doesn’t have a copy! We only found out when we went to purchase our marriage license. So now we are going through a big process cause she won’t sign the papers! He must go to court in order to get a divorce. Crazy huh? After being seperated for 15 yrs he’s trying to fight this! So, in my case will she recieve all his benefits and when I marry him still? Do I receive anything?

  114. Hi, my fiancé is just getting a divorce after 12 yrs, but he claims he didn’t know he was still married because she made him sign divorce papers 8 yrs after being married. But, of course he doesn’t have a copy! We only found out when we went to purchase our marriage license. So now we are going through a big process cause she won’t sign the papers! He must go to court in order to get a divorce. Crazy huh? After being seperated

  115. My ex-husband and I were married for over 10 years. We both re-married before turning 60. He and
    his 2nd wife have since divorced and he is currently single. He currently does not have enough ‘credits/quarters’ to draw social security benefits. I do. I plan on drawing early at 62. He will turn 62 several months before I do. Will he be able to draw off of my ss retirement benefits when he turns 62, or will he have to wait until I turn 62 and begin drawing benefits? Thanks!

  116. My sister-in-law is going through a divorce. During their marriage of over 10 years, they had a family business that was reported on Schedule SE under her SSN because she ran it. Her soon to be ex wants work record credit for the time that they (she) ran the business. I know that SSA says to file two SE’s to be sure that both get credit, but they did not do that. Is his only option to apply for the divorced spouse benefit? Or will SSA allow for modifications as part of a divorce settlement?

  117. Your post is so informative. Well my question is: I was married for 11 years and was widowed, received SSI and pension from my late husband. I remarried 12 years later, my SSI and pension payments stopped. I am now seeking to divorce after 10 years of second marriage. Can I now after my divorce is final, go back and somehow ask to start receiving the pension back from my first marriage from my deceased husband who was in law enforcement? And if so, how and where do I start the process? Secondly, I can resume using my 1st husband’s last name, right when I file the divorce papers?

    1. When you reach retirement age, you can collect social security benefits based on your first husband’s earnings history or your own, whichever is greater. As for pensions, you’ll have to refer to your divorce document for guidance or contact the plan administrator. Ask your attorney whether you can resume your first husband’s last name — generally, you can choose any name you wish.

  118. I am 54 and permanently disabled. and currently collecting disability benefits. my husband is 54 we have been married for 34 years and divorcing for his infidelity. when divorced, when can I start collecting on his record?

  119. I have been married 35 years and separated 5 years. I left the marital home due to domestic violence. My house is in joint names and paid off before the separation. Now, I am in the middle if a nasty contested divorce. My husband is 65 years old and he received Social Security Benefits of over $2,000 a month. Three months after he started receiving payments, he asked SSA to withhold a percentage of the payments and now only gets $1,500 (probably until after the divorce). Is this considered “Hiding Assets”? He has had a girlfriend for the past 3 years and they constantly go on cruises and vacations that he pays for.

    Thank you!

  120. Hi. I was married to my ex husband for over ten years. Divorced 2 years ago. He was in the military the entire marriage. In the divorce decree, his retirement benefits were not discussed. Now he’s out of the military, and I’m not sure if he’s collecting anything. I’m 41years old and receive social security disability(9 years) . Is there anything I can do at this time? Or do I need to wait until a certain age? Thank you.

  121. I have a follow up question if the answer is positive. How can I find out how much will I get from my ex’s social security?

  122. Hi, I found these talks very helpful. I have a situation where I hear different things. I was married in 1985 and divorced in 2011. I had learned that me ex had passed away in 2013 at a young age of 51. My question is can I still get any benefits from her social security? If so, at what Age and what do I need to do? Some say if my benefits are greater than hers which it is, I will not get it, I an confused and need help. Blessing In case if you need more info, I will be age 60 next month (May) and kinda being forced on 11/6/2015.

  123. I was married for 25 years to someone who will probably receive the max under SS. I mostly raised the kids. He is 67. I was told by SS that I should apply for benefits under my earning record at age 62, which I did a year ago, and receive less than $500/month. They said that I should then apply on his record at 66 to receive 1/2 of what he will receive. If I waited to apply at all till I am 66, I would be “leaving money on the table” by not applying under my own record now.

    As I have continued to read more about applying for SS, I do not see this advice anywhere. It seems that I should already be getting 1/2 of the amount he will receive, but reduced (maybe by 30%) since I started drawing early? And that this should have happened automatically since I should have received the largest amount to which I was entitled? And that perhaps waiting to apply at all till I am at least 66 would have been the better strategy?

    Any comments would be very much appreciated!!

    1. You are correct. They should be paying you the largest benefit to which you are entitled, reduced because you took benefits early. If you had waited until you were 66 you would have gotten unreduced benefits, but for a shorter period of time, since you wouldn’t be getting them now. If you need the money now, then now is the best time to get benefits. But be sure to contact social security to see if you should be receiving benefits under his earnings history.

      The above assumes that you and he are divorced. If you are still married you’ll have to wait until he applies for benefits to collect based on his earnings history. That limitation doesn’t apply if you are divorced.

      1. Yes, we are divorced. This is so frustrating, since I asked the SS office several times about what I should do, got different answers, but was assured by the lady when I went in to fill out my paperwork that I was absolutely doing the right thing by taking “mine” now, and his later.

        But you are saying that for the last year, instead of paying me less than $500/month, they should have been paying me closer to $900? (Assuming he will be receiving around $2600, and I get half minus 30%). Will they pay retroactively? Because now that I am receiving benefits, I can no longer go back to waiting until I my FRA, correct? Darn, I don’t really need the money now. I wish all were so lucky!

        1. Contact social security as soon as you can and talk to them about retroactivity. You have several options: If you applied less than a year ago you can withdraw your application and repay the benefits, and it will be as though you never applied. Or you can stop collecting benefits right now, and begin again when you are full retirement age, thus reducing your benefit then only partially (but do get any retroactive payments to which you are entitled first). Or you can continue as you are, but making sure you are collecting the greatest benefit possible.

  124. I am 2 years older than my ex-spouse (married for 10+ years) and these are my questions:

    1. If I file for benefits at age 66 when my ex-spouse is only age 64 (he will still be working), do I receive his full retirement benefit or is it reduced because he is not yet 66? Does he have to be 66 for me to collect the maximum allowable amount?

    2. Does my benefit increase at any point because he plans on working till probably age 70?

    He has been the bigger wage earner so I plan on letting mine grow till age 70. At that time, mine will be the greater amount.

    Thank you for your help!

    1. If you retire at 66, you can choose to take your own benefit or divorced spouse benefits. Your benefit is not reduced because you are of full retirement age. If you take divorced spouse benefits, it will go up a bit each year as he adds another year to his earnings record, until he is 70. When you reach 70, you can switch over and claim your own enhanced benefit.

  125. I have talked to Social Security and received different answers to the following question:
    If married over 10 years and now divorced, ex-husband is already full retirement age and still living, I am 62 and assume we have similar amount of full-benefit. Can I draw 50% of his benefit now and mine will continue to grow at 8%, or will they consider my age 62 benefits being more than his 50% benefit?

    1. If you take benefits at age 62, you will be paid the biggest payment to which you are entitled. So if your benefits are greater, you will draw on that account. If you waited until you were full retirement age, you could choose to collect divorced spouse benefits based on your ex’s earnings record and let yours continue to grow.

  126. I was married and divorced twice and I’m single and have been single for the last 20 years. I was married to my first husband for 10 years and a few mos and my second husband for 14 years. I am 67 but filed early for social security at a little over age 62. Social Security compared benefits under my own work record and my 2nd husband’s work record (who is 9 years older than me) and concluded that my own work record benefits would be about equal to benefits under his work record. I filed under my own work record. Recently I was told by a social security clerk that I could get an additional $184 if I re-filed under my 1st husband’s record (he is 66). But then I called the social security helpline who told me I cannot file under my first husband’s work record b/c I married my 2nd husband before I was 60 years old. That’s totally new info to me – I thought I had a choice. Please clarify. Did the law change?
    thanks

  127. Maureen Robertson

    I was married for 35 years and I am now collecting SS at age 62. My ex-spouse is still working and intends to until he reaches 65. If I wait until I’m 65 or 66 FRA to apply for some of his benefits what would I get. I saw somewhere there is a formula to calculate this situation. It was something about subtracting your full benefits from his full benefits and adding that to what i am receiving now. Could you clarify this as I can’t seem to find that formula?

    1. You don’t need to make the calculation, Social Security will make it and pay you the appropriate amount. You more or less will get your own benefits, or spousal benefits equal to 50% of his benefits, whichever is greater, and reduced by about 25% because you began collecting early.

  128. Hello, I was married for 16 years and divorced. My ex husband passed away 16 years ago at the age of 44. Can I collect on his SS benefits?

  129. I was in calif. and lived with my ex for two years then we decided instead of just living together lets get married so we did. But after eight yrs of marriage we divorced He just pasted away can I still collect on his social security. Calif. is common law marraige anyway.

  130. Hello, I was married over ten years to my first husband before we were divorced. Have remarried since and first husband is now deceased. How long do I have to be divorced from second husband before I can get widow benefits from first husband?

  131. I was married for over ten years I knew nothing about the law believed all my ex said. He told me if I signed a paper we could work on our marriage little dud I kniw I was signing away my rights to benifits .divorce was final in 2009 ..I looked at my court papers and it says null and void ..the divorce was granted but everything else would need to bevheard in court .with it being 2015 can I still go after my benifits .he was in the military fir ten years got out on a medical . Then started working for the government. I just want whats mine please help.

    1. If the military benefits were not addressed in your divorce, it is possible that they could be addressed now. But I don’t know the laws in your state, so you’ll need to consult with an attorney in your area to find out how that would work.

  132. Mary here again,
    I think the Social Security person was trying to tell me that the reduced benefit rule doesn’t apply to me (regarding ex spousal benefit) because even though I’m taking my retirement early, I will be several years past my Full Retirement Age when the ex turns 62. Is this true? Will the ex’s benefit be the full benefit because I will be over 66 when he turns 62?
    Thank you for any advice you can give.

  133. I am several years older than my ex husband. I was told that I could start taking my own retirement now (at at age 62) at a reduced rate, and then when my ex turns 62, I would be eligible to collect 50% of his which would NOT be reduced. Is this correct? I’m trying to figure out which rule applies to my situation. Will I be getting Full Ex-Spousal Benefits when he turns 62 (which is 50% ) or will I be getting Excess Ex-Spousal Benefits when he turns 62 (which is the difference of his 50% and mine?) I’m confused!!!

    1. Your benefit is limited to the greatest amount that you can collect. So if your divorced spouse benefit exceeds your own, that is the amount you will get. If you begin collecting benefits at age 62, the benefits you receive will be reduced, no matter which they are.

  134. I have been married for 16 years. .I am 49 so I am not collecting my public employees retirement yet. My husband is 64 and not collecting SS yet since he is still working full time. When am I eligible to collect derivative benefits?

    1. You are eligible for spousal benefits once you are age 62 or older. If you begin collecting before full retirement age, the amount you get will be reduced. And if you are collecting PERS benefits at the same time, your spousal benefits will be reduced by 2/3 of your public employee benefits under the Government Pension Offset rules.

  135. I understand that I am eligible to receive 1/2 of my ex-spouse’s social security benefit if it is higher than my own. I have 2 questions. 1) At age 70, do I have to apply for my own benefit even if it’s lower than my ex-spouse’s benefit? 2) How can I determine my benefit under my ex-spouse’s social security # prior to my application for benefits?

    It will be several years before I reach full retirement age, but I’m trying to financially plan my future if I retire, vs. continuing to work into my 70’s and 80’s.

    Thank you for your time. I apologize in advance if these questions have already been asked.

    1. Once you are full retirement age, you have a choice as to which benefit to take. If your divorced spouse benefit is higher, you will likely stick with that.
      Until you are close to applying for divorced spouse benefits, Social Security won’t discuss how much you’ll get in divorced spouse benefits. You could ask him, if he would disclose to you the benefits that Social Security projects he would receive — you’re benefit will be the equivalent of half of that (it doesn’t reduce what he gets).

  136. I’m so confused…
    I am on disability.
    My current husband and I have been married for 9 years. We were each married to our former spouses for 10+ years.
    When my husband turns retirement age, can the ex-wife receive a portion of that?
    If he were to pass (God forbid) will I receive his benefit in full or will his ex-wife (not remarried) receive a portion of it causing mine to be lesser amount?

    Also if his benefit is higher than mine, can I still keep my medical portion of disability
    Thank you.

    1. When he is of retirement age, his former spouse can collect divorced spouse benefits. It doesn’t reduce what he gets in benefits.
      When he dies, she can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits. It doesn’t reduce what you get as his widow.
      I don’t know the answer to your last question.

  137. my husband never divorce me, and remarried with out a divorce now he has passed away who can draw his benefits I only live with him for five years, but are still married to him. so the question is who can draw his benefits which wife

  138. I was married 15 years divorced 10 years ago. He was married one time before me for 12 years.
    He died 12/24/14 I have never remarried and he also had never remarried after our divorce. His first wife was not married at the time of his death. Do we both get a claim on his social security?

  139. I divorced in 2014, after 15 years of marriage and have not remarried.
    I will be 62 in March 2015. My ex-husband will be 62 in 2016.

    If I draw my ss early at 62, which I know will be a reduced rate, can I start receiving his ss reduced amount when he turns 62, or some combination thereof?

    I would also like to say that I am currently working as an employee of my ex-husband, and I have got to get out of here, but at my age I haven’t been able to find a job. I get no alimony or support from him.

  140. I have an interesting situation here. My grandmother doesn’t speak much English so I have been translating for her at our local SS office. She married Feb 1999 & separated (not legally ) Dec 1999. I dont believe there are any legal documents that can vouch for this but she hasn’t seen him since that year and she doesn’t even know where he even lives anymore. (He lives in Mexico). What does she need to doin order to receive her benefits? The SS office has asked for documents regarding the divorce but there hasn’t legally been a divorce yet. Does she need to file for divorce? Can she do that internationally?

    1. Since she is still married, she can collect spousal benefits once he files for benefits, or her own benefits, whichever is higher. If she divorces and is divorced for two years, she can file for divorced spouse benefits even if he has not yet applied for benefits, as long as he is 62 or older.

  141. I have a question regarding spousal benefits My ex husband filed an uncontested divorce and the divorce states about child support. he died in 2011 He was not able to complete the child support payment and owes me. Can I file the arrears in child support towards his social security benefits and also can I apply for divorced wife benefits. I know I am receiving more sss benefits than him and he has a life insurance then.
    Please help me about this situation if I am entitled or not

    1. If you are of retirement age and you were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, you can apply for surviving divorced spouse benefits. Since he is deceased he is not receiving social security benefits from which you could collect child support arrearages.

  142. I just ended my second marriage after 33 years. I went to SS office today and applied for ex-spousal benefits on first husband since his would be higher and second husband only 55. My first husband has been making a minimum of 200,000 a year since our divorce in 1983. I will be receiving only 595.00 a month. This seems quite low and was not told how this came to be figured. I was told that it will be reviewed by other offices to ensure it’s correct. I know I filed at my current age of 64, so I figured I would get at least 40% of what he would get if collecting. Does this sound right. Thanks

  143. My spouse is on SSD. I have recently had to file for SSD as well. What is my spouse entitled to regarding SSD benefits if we divorce and have been married over 10 yrs but not 62 and no children?