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.


  1. If you were married 10 years and your ex-spouse collects SSD are you still entitled to Derivated benefits.

    • Yes, you can get derivative benefits as long as your ex-spouse is eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits.

      • I was married 10 years we both remarried a fter out divorce, How much Social Security will i be entitled to/? i WILL B 62 IN fEBUARY 2014.i HAVE BEEN DIVORCED SINCED 2010 fro secon dhusband but divorced rom first husband in 2001

        • You may collect benefits based on your own earnings history, or divorced spouse benefits based on any husband to whom you were married for at least 10 years. If you begin collecting before your full retirement age of 66, you will receive reduced benefits. Contact the Social Security Advministration at http://www.ssa.gov to find out how much you are eligible to receive.

          • my boyfriend is disabled he collects SS we are about to get married will it go up or down or stay the same any info would help were trying to get into a place please any help

          • I’m not that knowlegable about disability benefits, so I cannot tell you whether marriage affects them. He should contact Social Security and ask that question.

          • This is in response to Katie, October 25,2015. Her question was about her boyfriend drawing disability, no marriage does not increase or decrease the amount he will draw. Unless there is a child or children he can claim as dependants. They can draw an amount. His disability will be based on what he has paid in over the years.

          • My question is my husband past and we have 2kids I only been married for 8 1/2 years do his ex gets social security or my kids

          • Your children may be entitled to social security benefits, so you should contact the social security administration as soon as you can.

          • Judy stanley says:

            My husbsnd, and I are about to get a divorce. I’ve been married, to this man for 12 years, he is disabled, he gets social security benefits, how long do I have to wait or can my Lawer put in for me to receve half his benefits, when he does our divorce. He is 54 I am 60 have been taking care of him for years. Now we’re geting a divorce, and I take care of my mom ,she has Alzheimer s my mom is 84 years old. And not able to take care of her self, so I’m taking care of her. So by doing this it took a hard ship on my marriage, I fell by taking care of my husband for 12 years , can I claim half his benefits, after the divorce. Please let me know.

          • When you are at least age 62, you can begin receiving social security retirement benefits. Meanwhile, ask your attorney if you can receive support based on your husband’s income from social security disability.

        • Here is another good point, if married for ten years to the x husband, compare what you would draw and their SS. If say you are retiring at 62 and your benefit is a bit higher than his…consider that if you do not draw on your SS it will continue to grow by 8% a year. So if your SS was $1400 a month by the time you reached 66 that SS would the be $2000 a month. Use this chart from Social Security to see how that would work for you.


          • What you suggest sounds good, but unfortunately can’t be done. If you begin drawing benefits before full retirement age of 66, then you must take the benefit that provides the highest payment. In your example that would be collecting on your own SS rather than your ex’s history. But this is a good strategy once you reach full retirement age — then you can begin drawing on your ex’s history and let your own benefit build (at 8% per year) until you are age 70.

          • I’m a gay man veteran of the army I receive BAh for college which is tax except my husband was on SS before we met he had cancer if we have been only married less than a year or to and got divorced is he able to get spouse support we are from Indiana if u have any advice

          • We are not attorneys and are not familiar with the laws regarding spousal support in your state. Ask an attorney for advice on this issue.

          • Susanmsp says:

            My husband worked for a company that paid into a pension instead of social security. The ex-wife was awarded 100% of the pension in the divorce. Husband has started drawing social security retirement and taxes are being taken out of his check (windfall elimination provision). Social security wants my husband to sign a form that states “I understand that my social security retirement benefits would be subject to Windfall Elimination Provisions when my ex-wife files for those benefits. The windfall elimination provisions would result in my retirement benefits to be refigured and would cause my social security retirement benefit to be less. I understand that I can now receive my retirement benefits without considering the windfall elimination provisions since my ex-wife has not yet filed for a pension from OPPD but that an adjustment will occur once she starts receiving the pension from OPPD. I understand that I may be overpaid for any months that she is receiving this pension and my social security benefits haven’t been adjusted.” What are his options?

          • He should ask what happens if he doesn’t sign this statement. It sounds as though the statement is simply telling him what the law is and what will happen under certain circumstances, so it shouldn’t make a difference in what he receives whether he signs it or not. But there may be something that I’m not understanding about why they want him to sign and what the consequences will be if he doesn’t.

          • Ginita Wall, Sheila’s response to the original poster seems accurate, and your reply seems not.

            Can you clarify because information on the SS website says..

            “You can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefits now and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of Delayed Retirement Credits.”

            I found that here http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/divspouse.htm

          • Oh, the laws are so confusing, aren’t they? You are correct about what the SS website says, but you quoted it out of context. The lead-in to that paragraph says, “I you have reached full retirement age and you are eligible for a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you have a choice.

            The original poster was turning 62, and so she has no choice if she collects benefits before full retirement age. She gets the higher amount, period.

          • At full retirement age, can I receive my SS benefit (smaller amount) and later receive half of my ex SS (bigger amount) at 70.

          • When you begin collecting benefits you will receive the greatest amount to which you are entitled. You do not have a choice.

      • Walter Brunner says:

        i am about to fill for a divorce been married for about 18 years
        but we separated after 6 years. so we have been apart for over 12 years.
        i belive since we are married over 10 years my soon to be ex wife will get
        the Socal Security Benefit. it counts when we got divorced and not when we separated.
        is that correct? we have been filing taxes for all the 18 years together

        appreciate any feed back


    • Maria Cristina Font says:

      I was married since 1974 until now. I need divorce because my marriage end long time ago. I had two children they are independent now. I’m 63 years old housewife not working, I’m in psychiatry treatment for depression for long time. I’m not well treated for my husband, very difficulty person. How can I divorce from this men. There is some possibilities receive some help because I can not do this alone because I’m too afraid. What are my options?

    • Hi,
      If I remarry do I still get the benefits? Thank you for your reply.
      Best Regards,

    • But Social Security just says I don’t qualify; that what I’d collect is more than half of his. He’s rich. They won’t divulge the truth, so we have to take their word for it. While you talk about the law, that’s very different from how the government actually doles out the pot. It’s a lot like Hillary reassuring us that she’s telling the truth about her email. We’re supposed to take their word for it.

      • For most people who have a work history, their own benefits are greater than 50% of their spouses benefits. His wealth has nothing to do with it, it is based on your work histories. And even if he’s been a high earner, the amount of earnings taxed for social security is capped each year, so anything he earned over that amount doesn’t count. Your former spouse has access to his year-by-year earnings record, even though for privacy issues you have access only to your own record.

    • I filed for SS when I turned 62 I receive reduced benefits, my ex is 13 months younger than I. He retired Jan 1 2015 filed for his SS retirement. We were divorced September 2015. His attorney and mine said I had to wait 2 years to receive a portion of his benefits. He of course earns more than I. Do I have to wait until September 2017 ? I am getting confusing differences

      • There is a 2 year waiting period after the divorce is final to collect benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record, unless you were collecting benefits based on his record prior to the divorce. It may be that you will not receive higher benefits at that time, however, since divorced spouse benefits are equal to 50% of the benefits he could receive, and that may be less than the 100% benefit you are receiving on your own earnings record.

  2. If I was married for 16 years, then legally divorced my husband, remarried him a couple years later and then divorced him again a few years later, am I still entitled to derivative benefits? I live in Indiana. I have not remarried since. He was my only husband ever. Or does the fact that I remarried him negate any derivative benefits? Thank you.

    • As long as you were married to him for 10 years or longer total (which you were), and you are not married at the time you apply for benefits, you are entitled to derivative benefits. I’m sorry that your remarriage didn’t work out, but at least it didn’t affect your benefits.

      • Hello Ginita,

        I am very glad to hear this. Thank you. It is for the best.

        I have never applied for these derivative benefits. Is there a deadline? I first divorced him in 2004 after 16 years of marriage and it was final in 2004 (uncontested). We then remarried a couple years later and I divorced him again and it was final in 2010 (uncontested). He is 58 years old and yes still working. Is there a deadline for me to apply? Where do I apply?

        Thank you.

      • Hello,

        If I was to marry someone else someday, would I still receive derivative benefits from the 16 year marriage that ended in divorce?

        Thank you!

        • If you are married to someone else, then you will receive spousal benefits based on that spouse’s history rather than derivative benefits based on your ex-spouse’s history. So if you remarry, be sure to marry up, and not down!

          • Yes, marry up and not down. I wish I thought about that when I was in my 20’s! Very good advice and thank you for that advice.

          • I guess it’s all about money, uh?

          • Life and happiness are about a lot more than money, but it is true that you can’t live without money, isn’t it?

          • Ginita Wall, CPA CFP states “…Marry up and not down!”. Even in her capacity as a financial advisor, she seems to give financial concerns a misappropriate priority. It is true “that you can’t live without money…” , What of the adage, “You can’t buy happiness”? Ginita Wall, you provide a plethora of information regarding Social Security, however you lack training to proffer advice as what should be assigned order of overall priorities to the people requesting specific advice. When unqualified or unknowledgeable the most appropriate response is “I do not know”. Accordingly you invoke this “I don’t know” reply many times, when the questions request info outside your scope of knowledge. You offer massive quantities of info within your area of knowledge and it’s appreciated. There is no shame in acknowledging and sharing when you venture outside your arena of knowledge. Thank you for sharing your financial knowledge, try to refrain from offering unsubstantiated platitudes. Your advise will be of greater value while remaining your area of expertise. Thanks again.

          • A man says, My father abandoned my mother,left her with 5 children to support on her own.
            Never did my father pay child support ,but collected my mothers social security that more than doubled his his own.Men are suppose to be the provider’s so women can nurture the children.No little girl says “When I grow up I want to marry a bum”. Men refuse to man up so women had to.Now we have a bunch of mentally disturbed adults because mom’s had to work instead of nurture.Then people wonder why we have a country full of deranged shooter’s,people who don’t know their gender. When men provide and stop complaining about it ,mom’s can nurture the children ,and society can be turned around.There is nothing wrong with a women expecting security!

      • Dawn Dunbar says:

        Hi Ginita,
        I have a major problem. I was married to a man for 8 years and then divorced briefly during that time, which was not counted because it was less than a year. We then divorced for a year and were back together for another 8 years in what we thought was a common law state. Wet hen married for another eight years. We were together a total of 23 years, and I never remarried after the last 8 years. which was in 1993. Now I am 62 an can’t get half of his. This is horrible because I was a housewife and had lupus then and now. I just did not know it had to be 10 continuous years plus I did not know WA State does not have common law marriages. Is there any chance if I appeal this that I could get on his based on the total years? It just seems so unfair to give it to wives with ten years and not me who was with him 23, 16 of them married. I believe it should be based on total years. Could I present an argument and have any chance of winning on appeal? We had three children together, one adopted even. Thanks for your help!!

        • Yes, you do have a problem. I checked with a respected expert on Social Security and she said: “If the remarriage took place no later than the end of the calendar year after the divorce, the two marriages can be combined for the purpose of satisfying the 10-year marriage requirement. This is an obscure rule buried in the Social Security Programs Operation Manual System.”

          • Dawn Dunbar says:

            Hi Ginita!

            Thanks for checking and your reply! No, we do not have the remarriage in the needed time frame. I just do not think this law is fair related to rare cases like mine where I was with this man for so many years. Do you think I stand a chance on appeal? It seems unfair and discriminatory to me.

            Thank you!

          • You can appeal if social security is not following its rules. But if it is following its rules, which it seems to be, then you will need to get congress to change the rules. I suggest you contact your representatives in congress.http://whoismyrepresentative.com/

          • Here is the law in the Social Security Programs Operation Manual System:



          • Deborah Adams says:

            My ex has passed we lived together for ten years but was only married for the last 7 years can I still draw on his social security ? Is common law counted as part of the ten years ?

          • If common law marriage is legal in your state and you do everything that needs to be done to conform with the rules and can prove it, then it is my understanding that social security administration will count the years of common law marriage.

          • Can an ex get social security if they’re 6 months from the ten year anniversary?

          • You must have been married for 10 years to collect divorced social security benefits. If you were only married 9-1/2 years, that does not meet the 10 year mark.

      • Jenniffer says:

        I was married 5 years then dovoriced then remarried same man for 6 years now if we divorce now am I still entitled to his benefits when I retire?

        • If your divorce and remarriage occurred within the same year, you can aggregate the two periods of marriage to see if you were married for 10 years or longer. If not, then the two periods of marriage are treated separately, and you would not be entitled to derivative benefits.

  3. I have been married to my husband from jan 2004 . but we have been living together from 2001 june. If I file for divorce now , will I be getting his social security benefits?

  4. I got married April 12,1966 and got divorced March 25,1975 . Does it take into consideration that I have his child ? I would have stayed married a little longer had I known the rules at that time, but I didn’t . He deserted us 2 years prior to me filing so it wasn’t like I was having to live with him anyway. I liked a month being 15 when we married , so technically I was 14. I really don’t understand , if you have his legal child what time frame has to do with it. If there is a loophole to me being able to draw from him , please let me know. He is still living . There may not be anything I can do , but I certainly would deserve it . He paid no child support and left me at 22 with 5 yr old child and no education or money to live on . It’ was hard to find any kind of job , quitting school and marrying at 14. He is retired from high paying job , and only a few months being 10 years I was married to him , is standing in my way. What a shame , they should change the rules stating if you have a child it shouldn’t matter .

    • For you to get divorced spouse benefits, you must have been married for at least 10 years, and I know of no exceptions. Since these are retirement benefits, whether or not you have children is not relevant. If you and he had minor children when he retired, they would be entitled to children’s benefits, but in your situation that isn’t the case.

  5. So. when you say , you have to be married “AT LEAST” ten years, Could that mean same month , ten years to the month or ten years to the month and day.
    eg: married Jan 10, 2000 Divorced Jan 1, 2010 would that be considered “at least 10 years.
    thank you

  6. If my ex has remarried, and I have also remarried ,but he has passed away and we were married for 25 yrs am I still entitled to his benefits?

    • Generally, you cannot get widow’s or widower’s benefits if you remarry before age 60. But remarriage after age 60 (or age 50 if you are disabled) will not prevent you from getting benefit payments based on your former spouse’s work record. So if you were 60 or older when you remarried, the answer is yes, you would qualify.

      • O. Braddy says:

        But if the marriage ends with the second husband for whatever reason, you WILL be able to draw benefits from the first husband. I had the same situation. I was married for 28 years. I remarried at age 55. I retired at age 62 and drew benefits on my own work record. The second husband passed away five months later and I began to draw his benefits. The first husband passed away six years after that and I began to draw benefits from him, which was substantially more since he was already on disability. At this time, I was married again. The requirement is that the marriage you entered into before age 60 has been terminated, whether by divorce or death. After age 60, you can remarry as many times as you wish and still draw from the first husband.

        • This is old but maybe you’ll still receive it.. I was 29 when my 39 yr old husband passed.. We were married 3 yrs and had kids.. I remarried but am now divorced after 6 yrs.. At retirement age being I’m divorced will I still be able to get my deceased husbands benefits?

  7. If your ex-spouse (from marriage over 10 years) divorces his second wife prior to 10 years, then he is still eligible for your benefits (if he’s single by retirement age)? And you say, at least as of today, what he receives in derivative benefit from me will not affect my own benefit?

  8. I was married for 21 years and then divorced. I am 65 and just now found out that I am eligble for divorced spousal benefits. I could have been receiving them for 7 years! I have also learned that the SSA will only go back 6 months for retroactive benefits. I feel that the SSA purposely does not divulge this eligiblity in the statements that are sent showing how much an individual’s social security benefit amount will be. Is there anyway to make the SSA accountable for this? I am sure there are many women who have missed receiving these benefits!

    • You can’t receive divorced spouse benefits until you are both 62 or older. If you collect at the age of 62, your benefits will be reduced by about 30% compared to what they would be if you had waited until age 66 to collect. Since you are 65, you haven’t really lost anything — collecting now, or waiting until your full retirement age of 66, will give you much higher benefits than you would have gotten by collecting earlier. Again, the earliest age at which you could have collected is age 62, so there is no way that you could have been receiving benefits for 7 years, as you state.

      Social Security Administration no longer sends out the paper statements, but you can check your benefits on line at http://www.ssa.gov. On both the statements and on line they show how much you can collect at ages 62, 66 and 70. They can only give you that information based on your own earnings history because of privacy issues. Once you apply for benefits, you can find out how much you can receive in divorced spouse benefits.

      • I thought spousal benefits could start when my ex was 62 and not when I was 62? I also understood that I can take the spousal benefits now and wait to take mine at 70 so that I get the highest amount for my social security benenfits.

        • You both have to be at least 62 to take benefits.

          If you begin taking benefits before your full retirement age of 66, you will receive reduced benefits.

          If you wait until at least 66 to take benefits you will get full benefits.

          You are correct that you can take the divorced spouse benefits at age 66 and then switch over to your enhanced benefits at age 70, if they are greater than the divorced spouse benefits. That way, your own benefits will increase by 8% for each year you delay taking them, up to age 70.

          Here’s a straightforward explanation of the rules at the Social Security Adminstration’s website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/divspouse.htm

          • I’m trying to do some research on this issue and came across this message. It see that’s it’s from 4 years ago, but I need some assistance. I, too, am in the same situation that I could have been taking derivative benefits from my ex’s social security, but had no idea that this was possible, and there wasn’t any notification at all about this being able to be done. I am about to turn 70, and ssa is telling me the same – that I can only go back 6 months. How is this allowed to happen? I didn’t know that my ex had started taking his ss. I didn’t know that I could take these benefits. What other recourse do I have to recoup more than just the 6 months? That’s more than 3 years of lost money for me and my family. Is there any words of wisdom that will help me in my situation?

          • Start getting benefits right away — don’t spend any more time asking how this can happen. Start collecting now, before even more time passes.

          • I am doing just that, but isn’t there anything else that you could tell me about this situation? Do I have any other recourse? How can I get the rest of the benefits that I was due to receive? Why was I not informed of the ability to get these benefits? I’m trying to gather as much information about this as I can about this.

  9. Dixie Bingham says:

    Is it better to take my ex-spouses social security first? I plan on retiring at 62 and he has already retired. When I apply for retirement, will I have to tell Social Security that I want his benefits first or is this something they determine? I don’t know how much he made, but I guess I’m assuming his income was greater than mine. Is this something that will be told to me when the time comes?

    • If you begin taking benefits when you are age 62, you will not get a choice on whether to take yours or not — you’ll get the highest amount you are entitled to, reduced by around 30% because you are claiming benefits before full retirement age. If you wait until full retirement age, you can opt to claim divorced spouse benefits on his record, and let your benefits continue to increase (at 8% a year) until age 70. At that point, you could switch over to your own benefits.

      But waiting to take benefits until your full retirement age of 66 probably isn’t the right solution for you, even though it would give you greater benefits at age 70. Since you intend to retire at age 62, I’m guessing that you need to begin taking benefits then. And to my mind, the best time to begin taking benefits is when you need them — that’s what they are there for.

      • Are Social Security benefits the only retirement benefits that are ‘automatically’ available to the ex-spouse? For example, I have several IRAs and a 401k, and my husband and I are getting a divorce soon (after 10 years of marriage). He’s not the type to hire a lawyer and push for part of my IRA/401k benefits, but is he automatically entitled to them because of the 10-year rule?

        Thanks so much for all your help; these answers are very informative!!

  10. Elton Jones says:

    I have an interesting one for you. I am the executor of my father’s estate. He died outside of the USA. (age mid 80’s) Both parents moved to the US in the 50’s. Their marriage ended in divorce after 11 years. Both parents remarried to others and these marriages ended in divorce as well. My father applied for and received Social Security (SS) starting about 20+ years ago. He moved outside the country and continued to collect his SS by way of direct deposit to a bank account. About 7 years ago the SS payments stopped due to a legal issue of which I have very little information, but not related to his eligibility to SS and more likely for failing to appear in court. It appears he never challenged the cancellation of his SS. In conversation with my mother, now retired (age late 70’s) and living in the US, she mentioned that she may be eligible for my father’s SS. So my question is: Is my mother eligible to collect from my father’s SS even though it was cancelled due to an issue unrelated to his eligibility to SS?

    • If your father was receiving social security payments at one time, that was because he has an account with them on which those payments were based. If the payments stopped, they either went to someone else (such as the plaintiff in the legal issue), or else they were temorarily halted for no good reason, and the estate is now due the back payments. Either way, your mother should be able to collect based on your father’s account. So contact social security as the executor of your father’s estate, and have your mom contact them as well (or you can contact them with her by your side to give them permission to talk to you on her behalf). You can reach Social Security toll-free, 7AM to 7PM, Monday to Friday, by calling: 1-800-772-1213. Good luck, and please return to tell us what you found out.

  11. My ex died, but we were common law in 1996, he even had me on his life insurance as the beneficiary Aug 1,1997, we got married Oct 4,1997 and divorced Sept 10, 2007. Would that qualify.

  12. I’m 76, was married to first husband 20 yrs. he is now 80 and receiving ss benefits including Medicare. I remarried to a much younger man (he’s now 50). After 24 yrs of marriage number 2, divorce will be final next month…. I can’t collect on second husbands social as he’s not retirement age. Can I claim on first husband’s immediately after my divorce is final from second marriage??

  13. I’m about to be divorced for sencond time. First marriage lasted 20 years –first husband is 80 and collecting social security and medicare. Second marriage lasted 24 yrs but second husband is not retirement age and wont be for sometime. I understand I am entitled to social security and medicare from first marriage…question is how son after second divorce is final? immediately or is there some waiting period? I’m 76

  14. I was married for 10 years and divorced. After that I married for 9 years and was widowed.
    Would I at 62 be eligible for the benifits of the 10 year marriage.

    • As long as you were married for 10 years or longer and both you and your ex are at least 62, you can apply for reduced benefits based on your earnings record or his. They will figure which will give you the highest benefit and that’s what they will pay you.

      • If her second marriage ended in widowhood, she could be collecting widows benefits as early as 60 in a reduced amount or even 50 if she were disabled.
        As you say on the divorced husband she could start collecting, again reduced on his benefits at 62 assuming he is also 62. Or she could collect one at 60 or 62 respectively and switch to the other later on.

  15. I was married twice; first time was for 20 yrs. then divorced, he died two years ago but age 57 on a disability check. (SSI)
    Second marriage was for 19 yrs. I am now going into a divorce, he is age 71.
    can I file for widow’s pension when I turn 62– from the first husband who died.
    I am 61 and do not qualify for retirement at all.
    Thank you so much

    • When you are close to turning 62, contact the Social Security Administration at http://www.ssa.gov and fill out the application for benefits. Be sure to indicate both marriages, and mention that Husband #1 is deceased. They will figure the marriage that will result in the highest benefit for you.

      • She can apply at 60 for those widows benefits once her current divorce is final. you seem to be missing the widows can collect as early as 60 or even 50 if disabled. Also she does not state how old she is, since she is not yet 62 it appears, then she could not file on husband 3 for which she would only be elegible UP TO 50% of his benefit for two years after the divorce.
        She can file for Widow benefits under husband 2 if she is 60 as stated above, which would be 100% of his FRA amount minus reduction for her filing before her FRA.

        • McCall is correct when he says that reduced widow’s benefits are available as early as age 60, so you can file for reduced benefits now or wait until you are 66 and collect full divorced widow’s benefits. But you can do that only after your divorce is final.

          I don’t understand McCall’s comments about filing on Husband #3, since you have been married just twice, and are currently divorcing Husband #2. Since Husband #2 is very much alive, McCall’s suggestion that you collect widow benefits from his earnings record can’t be done.

  16. I’m in process of divorce of 11 years. Married from 2000 separated 2011. He was an active duty in the military service in 2000 through 2005 then he retired. In 2011 we got separated. If I asked for retirement benefits on our divorce, do I receive just the half of his time served as an active duty of 5 years? He started working as a civilian in the military since 2005 after he retired. Do I get a portion of that retirement benefits?

    • You are entitled to a share of the military retirement based on the service credits earned during your marriage compared to his total service credits. You are also entitled to a portion of the pension earned as a civilian, based on the time he was working for them and you were married compared to the total time he ends up working for them.

  17. Dixie Bingham says:

    I was married to my ex for 10 years, most of those years he was active military. We divorced in early 1980’s. He retired from the military in 1991 and just recently, he retired from civilian work. When I retire, will I be eligible for any military retirement, his civilian social security, or both?

    • Hmmm, seems to me that the military retirement should have been divided when you divorced. Doesn’t your divorce settlement agreement talk about that issue? If not, you may still be able to get your share of it, though I’m not sure what would happen if he’s been collecting benefits since 1991 that are rightfully yours.

      Since you were married to him for 10 years, you will be eligible for divorced social security benefits.

  18. I got married in July 2001, but we separated 3 months after, we are still married,never filed for divorce. If I get divorce and remarry and for some reason my second marriage doesn’t work and I divorce again, can I claim SS for my first marriage even if we were separated all this years?

  19. Peyton Downing says:

    I live in Alaska and have been marriage for 23 years but separated for 21 do I still receive hand of his pension

  20. Spouse was married to a physician for 19 years and two kids and then divorced. Spouse and I were later married 10 plus years and are now finalizing a divorce. I think you stated it above, but would you clairify if my spouse (if she remains unmarried) who has rarely worked

    1. can get half of her first husbands SS Benefits and also half of mine- Or does she cap out at 50% of the highest amount or if both are at the highest level then 1/2 of the last husband’s. or does it not matter if both were at the highest level.

    2. Now if one or both of her ex spouses dies–whose survivors benefits will she tap into. It is likely her first husbands income will be high through out his life — he is 60) and mine will be at a lower rate–I am 59.


    • She is entitled to collect derivative benefits (divorced spouse benefits) on either ex-spouse’s history or her own history, whichever produces the highest benefit. She can’t double up and take divorced spouse benefits on both of her ex-spouses. If one of the ex-spouses were to die, she could get quasi-widows benefits based on that person’s history, if that would result in a higher benefit (which it likely would because it would be 100% benefit on that person’s history rather than just 50% divorced spouse benefit). Again, which history she would collect on depends on which would give her the greatest benefit.

  21. my ex was court ordered to pay me spouse support when we got divorce. i was married to him for 10 years i’m 63 can i get bouth ss and spouse support from hin one more question, and can i get back pay from not fileing for his ss when i was 62?

    • Yes, as long as you and he are both 62 or older you can receive social security benefits even though you are receiving spousal support at the same time. The benefits begin no earlier than the date you file for social security. They are retroactive.

      • pamela canan says:

        Hi ginata I am on Ssi disabled um going on 60 my xhusband age 58 I was married for over 10 years can u get early benefits for being disabled he us still working
        Thank you for any information you can provide

        • It sounds as though you are already getting disability payments. Once he reaches retirement age and applies for Social Security benefits, you can apply for spousal benefits, if those benefits exceed what you are getting for disability.

  22. debra wheeler says:

    i was married for over 10 years, divorced, and later remarried to a different person for 5 years, then divorced, so am single now. found out that first husband has passed away, i well be 60 next month, do i qualify for surviving divorced spouse benefits?

    • Yes, you can get reduced widow benefits at age 60, and full benefits if you wait until 66 to collect. Contact the Social Security Administration ASAP if you want to apply for benefits: http://www.ssa.gov.

      • debra wheeler says:

        hello again ginita, and thank you for you reply a couple of months ago. well i went to my local ss office and told them was married over 10 years first husband, and then 5 yrs and a divorce from 2nd, just like i told you, and the girl at the ofice told me that i am not elligiable to collect ss from 1st husband, unless i was also married for over 10 years to my 2nd husband! i tried to explain to her that the internet did not say tht i had to be married to the 2nd husband for 10 years, but she just said that i am not elligable and bye. please if you can check and see if we are correct in me being able to collect ss so i can and if i should check into this more. thank you very much

      • Hello Ginita…..I was married for 14 years to my ex husband…he passed away recently and he was receiving ssi…my daughter is getting survivers benefits from him but, I’ve been ill with the disease called lupus and depression and anxiety and hypertension I’m trying to get ssi too due to my illness and I have a lawyer working on my case is there a good chance that I will get his ssi???

  23. I took early SS benefits at 62, in 2008; I was still married at that time (for 18 years).. My husband (who is a teacher in California) and I were divorced in 2010. As a part of our divorce settlement, I will receive a portion of my ex-husband’s teacher’s pension up to the time we separated (about 9 years of his teachers pension), for life.

    Anyway, I’ve just heard about Windfall Elimination Provision (ha!, like $400 per month payment from my husband’s pension fund is a “windfall”?!) and the Government Pension Offset. Will either one of these impact me? The formulas that govern these provisions are mind-bogglingly complex, and I’ve given up trying to figure out whether they apply at all, and if they do, how much it will mean to my already meager SS retirement check. I’m not sure that I have 30 years of “substantial earnings” as defined by SS, because I was a working mother, and was home for many years – I’m aware that years of “substantial earnings” can impact the Windfall Provision. Again, just knowing if they apply to my situation would be a big help. I’m surprised that any of this would apply, because it’s a part of a divorce settlement.

    Thanks for your help!

    Any help or advice is appreciated.

    • Under the GPO, if you receive a pension from a federal, state or local government based on work where you did not pay Social Security taxes, your Social Security benefits tased on your ex-spouse’s earnings history may be reduced. But I don’t see in your post that you are going to receive a pension on your work, so the GPO wouldn’t apply.

      The WEP affects you if you earned a pension in any job where you did not pay Social Security taxes and you also worked in other jobs long enough to qualify for a Social Security retirement or disability benefit. Again, that doesn’t sound like your situation.

  24. JENNIFER S. says:


    • It sounds as though you need to file for divorce or legal separation quickly, so that you can get a judge to give temporary orders giving you support and temporary use of the car and other marital assets. Go to the courthouse and ask them whether there are facilitators there who can help you with the paperwork. Hurry!

    • I’m in the same boat as you Jennifer. I’ve been married for 21 to a police officer.

  25. Hello, I was married for 10 years to a wonderful man and he passed away during our tenth year of marriage in May 1999. I became permanently disabled in 2001 and have been collecting social security disability benefits from my account. I am 52 years old now, unmarried and do not have children. Could I be entitled to his benefits as well? Thank you.

    • You are entitled to widow’s benefits, for sure, but not in addition to your own benefits (disability benefits in your case). You’ll get the higher benefit, not both. I’m assuming that the Social Security Administration is aware that you were married, so when you reach age 60, the age at which you can collect reduced widow’s benefits, they will adjust your benefit to the widow’s benefit amount, if it is higher than you are getting. You probably should contact them a few months before your 60th birthday, to make sure that they will be reviewing it at that time.

      • O. Braddy says:

        She said she’s disabled. I thought benefits started at age 50 for disabled widows.

        • Here are examples of monthly benefit payments from the Social Security website:
          •Widow or widower, full retirement age or older –100 percent of your benefit amount;
          •Widow or widower, age 60 to full retirement age — 71½ to 99 percent of your basic amount;
          •Disabled widow or widower, age 50 through 59 — 71½ percent;
          •Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 — 75 percent.

          • billie roberts says:

            I am 59, will be 60 in June 2016, Have been disabled since 1994 , married 19 years, divorced 3 years can I draw on my ex husband when I turn 60 being I am disabled now?

          • Once both of you are 62, you can draw divorced spouse retirement benefits if those exceed the disability payments that you are receiving.

  26. i was married to the father of my children for 20 years. if i do not remarry, what am i entitled to receive? his pay was double mine, and i took years off to raise my kids. what is derivative benefits? i am now in a relationship with a man who earns more than my ex. if i marry him, i lose my ex’s benefits. how long do i need to be married to get benefits as his widow? sorry if this seems cold but i am concerned about the future and i could just live with him if it is better financially.

    thank you

    • You are entitled to derivative benefits as a divorced spouse, since you were married for more than 10 years. That means you’ll get an amount equivalent to half of what he is eligible to receive, or your own benefits based on your own history, whichever is greater. If you are married to someone else when it comes time to collect benefits, then you will be entitled to spousal benefits based on that person’s earnings history and mot derivative benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings.

      If you don’t remarry and your ex-spouse dies, you can collect widow’s benefits. If you remarry and your current spouse dies, you can collect widow’s benefits based on his earnings record, no matter the duration of your marriage.


    • I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles. Since your husband refuses to pay support, you need to ask the court immediately for a hearing re temporary orders for support. It is the only way he will pay you, it sounds like.

      You don’t need to put anything into your divorce decree about social security, since it is by operation of federal law, and your divorce decree is a state document that won’t affect federal law.

  28. Thank you,! There needs to be more caring women like you! Thank You, Lord for leading me to the Wife.org website. Bless you ladies and men who work on this site!

  29. Will it make any difference in receiving derivative benefits if I change my name when I divorce? I have been married 24 years and I am planning to take back my maiden name.

  30. Hello,
    I was married for 24 years. My husband earned most of our wages but I did earn some of the wages for a few years. Most of those years I spent raising our three children.
    A couple of years after we divorced I became disabled but I only qualify for SSI as I did not work enough years prior. I am now 50 and he is 56. Is there any possibility that his social security can help me now? SSI is not near enough to live on especially with my medical expenses and until a year ago I still had a teenager in my home.

    Thank you for your time,

    • Once you are 62, you will be old enough to apply for reduced divorced spouse benefits, that may exceed what you are getting from SSI. I know that’s a long time to wait, but you can’t qualify for social security benefits on his earnings record until you are both at least 62. If he should die in the meantime, you could begin getting reduced benefits at age 60.

      • O. Braddy says:

        Again, she states she’s disabled, so benefits should begin at age 50. She cannot draw from him, though, until he begins to receive benefits or dies.

  31. I’m planning my own retirement and need clarification on survivor benefits. I was married 20 years and presume ex-husband had greater earnings. I am still divorced, never remarried, and do not plan to marry before 60 years old. Ex-husband filed early at 62. If he dies prior to my retirement I understand I can file for survivor benefits at 60. My question is whether his early filing would affect my survivor benefits or are survivor benefits always based on full retirement benefits. I know that if I were to file for survivor benefits at FRA I would receive 100% of his benefit and only 71.5% of his benefit at 60…just not sure which benefit this is based on…his FRA benefit or the early benefit he currently receives.

    • If your ex-spouse dies and he was receiving reduced benefits due to early retirement, your widow’s benefits will be based on those reduced benefits. Here’s a link to the Social Security Administration’s explanation: http://www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou5.htm

      • again this is incorrect information. while spousal benefits would be reduced if husband took early retirement, SURVIVOR benefits are not , they are based on FRA benefit and would only be reduced by the age the widow takes the benefit at.

        • The Social Security Administration makes it very clear on their website: “If the person who died was receiving reduced benefits, we base your survivor’s benefit on that amount. The maximum survivors benefit amount is limited to what he or she would receive if they were still alive.”

  32. Hello,

    I’m hoping you can give me some assistance. My husband is 69. He was married to his ex wife for more than 10 years. I believe she is in her 50s. She stopped working right after marrying him & hasn’t worked since; she went on “mental disability” & had a bunch of (faked) mental issues. He has NO children with her or anyone else. He just retired from Federal employment a little over a year ago. She got alimony up until he retired, and then immediately began getting a portion of his pension. When she hits 62, if he has passed away by then, is she eligible to collect on his social security benefits as well? Basically, my question is: What happens to survivor benefits when there is an ex wife who is 62 or older and a current wife that is under 62 & someone passes away?

    Thank you in advance for any clarification you can offer.

    • Since she’s getting federal benefits, she probably won’t be eligible for much, if any, of his social security, because of a provision called the government pension offset. But you don’t need to concern yourself with whether she collects or doesn’t collect — it doesn’t affect what you will get, while he is living or after he dies.

  33. Sure have enjoyed reading your website. I am 58 and r married two years ago to a man who is now 62. At this time I do not have enough working quarters for SSI believe it or not…had a rough go being single and surviving on my own. Now that I am married must I wait the 10 years until I can collect from my now husband’s retirement? He does plan to retire at age 66. The reason I ask is because another website by a man named Larry…he stated that collect a a new husband’s SSI the wife must be married to him for ten years.

    Thank you

  34. Hi. I was divorced five plus years ago and without an attorney’s help I gave my ex wife more alimony than I should had especially now because I am remarried. I didn’t realize at the time that my ex now at age 62 can collect SS either hers or on mine whichever she chooses. She has made no effort in finding work and lives comfortably with her support I give her. In my mind I feel it would be fair to reduce the support some because as I said before..my situation has changed in many ways and I was too generous at the time of divorce only to resist contention. What are your feelings? If I were to get an attorney would I have a chance to make changes because of her added income?

  35. If I marry at age 59 to a man who is 62 and planning to retire at age 66, can I collect on spousal benefits at age 62 if we have only been married for five years?

  36. At the time I did my self divorce, two years ago, I agreed to a lot of alimony lasting until I reach the ripe age of 68. Not realizing at the time that she, my ex, would be able to collect next month, at age 62, her own SS benefits and then collect spousal benefits (mine) at 50% which will be the greater amount at age 66. At this time she will have more income than myself without even working!
    If I bring this to to a lawyer to have the amount I pay her each month reduced, do you think I will have a fair chance? These last two years she lives only on her alimony not trying to find employment, etc as she promised she would do…. while I struggle to make ends meet each month.

    • Take a look at your divorce agreement and see if it says that you can modify alimony on a change in circumstances, or if it is non-modifiable. If the latter, you likely are out of luck. If the former, then her collecting social security benefits might be a change in circumstances that would allow you to petition the court for a reduction. But I’m not sure from your comments that she is actually going to collect social security — you say she is eligible, but there is nothing that would force her to accept reduced social security benefits at age 62 rather than waiting until full retirement age of 66. If she isn’t collecting, that’s not a change in circumstances. Also, look to see if your divorce agreement says that she should seek employment — if so, you might have a case to open it up for modification.

      • The divorce papers are very very vague as I did not have a lawyer to help. It only states the date August 2018 when alimony ends. Because it does NOT say it is non modifiable I still may have a chance possibly?
        She will be 66 in 2016 so again her collecting 50% of my ss and collecting 40% of my income, she will be bringing in more than myself. I hope that the court will see my side as I am told they are usually on the women’s side.

  37. I was married for over 10 years, got divorced and remarried again for 2 years, got divorced and remarried for another 2 years and currently divorced. My former spouse of 10 years had a common law spouse and they were together for over 10 years. They are both deceased. I am now 76 years old. Am I entitled to my ex husband of 10 years benefits?

    • Yes, you are entitled to survivor benefits — contact Social Security at http://www.ssa.gov as soon as possible.

    • Tamara Gibson-Botello says:

      What happens if the father of my 2 children pass. We have been together for 16 years but are not legally married. We file taxes together and he claims me as his wife, but we don’t officially have the marriage certificate. He is very ill right now with kidney failure. We are hoping for a transplant. Question though is he was married before me for just a bout 10 years. Then got a divorce several years later. We have been together since then and like I Saud have two children with him. Does she get his ssocial security in the unfortunate event something happens to him while we are waiting for transplant. I just want to make sureour children together are taken care of. Not his ex wife and her children that he hasn’t seen in over 17 years.

      • It is unlikely that his children from his prior marriage will get social security benefits, since only children under 18 can collect based on their deceased parent’s benefits. So your children can collect, but his older children cannot. Unless common law marriages are recognized in your state, you won’t be eligible to collect as his widow. If his former wife has not remarried, and he and she were married for 10 years or longer, she can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits based on his earnings record as early as age 62, if those benefits exceed her own benefits.

  38. I was married for over 10 years to my second husband, married a third husband less than 8 years and am now been living with a man for over 2 years…my question is if I should become his common law wife only for the simple reason I am living with him can I still collect social security benefits from my second husband?

    • I don’t know the laws regarding common-law marriages in your state. Common law marriages can be contracted in nine states (Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Utah and Texas), so if you don’t live in one of those states you can’t contract a valid common law marriage.

      If you do become married under civil or common law, then you will be eligible for spousal benefits on your current husband’s history rather than divorced spouse benefits on your former husband’s history.

  39. Gabriella says:

    My parents are recently divorced and since than my father started receving SSI bennefits for himself and the other four children. Not me because i am 18 i am just curious about this. My mother has full custody of my younger sister who is eight. She is calling attorneys because she thinks she should be getting the bennefits that my father is recieving for her. So my question is can my mother fight my father for the bennefits that he is recieving for her? If so why?

    • Children of divorced parents are still eligible for benefits regardless of whether the child lives with the parent receiving Social Security benefits. Since those benefits are for the children, your mother should check with her attorney about getting those funds paid to her by your father as additional child support for your sister.

  40. I live in the state of South Carolina and asked :
    I was married for over 10 years to my second husband, married a third husband less than 8 years and am now been living with a man for over 2 years…my question is if I should become his common law wife only for the simple reason I am living with him can I still collect social security benefits from my second husband?

  41. Question: My stepfather is a retired policeman and thus received benefits from a non-Social Security covered job. He was married to his former wife for more than 10 years and is currently married to my Mom and that has been for more than 10 years. He also worked off-duty jobs during his career and did pay in Social Security on that income and he is also a Vietnam Vet. He currently receives about $100/mo in Social Security benefits and the medical deduction pretty much wipes that out. Does this sound right to you, or should he be able to claim derivative benefits off either one of his spouses???

    • If you work for an employer who does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency, any ­pension you get based on that work may reduce your Social Security benefits, and your Social Security derivative benefits are reduced by two-thirds of your government pension. That is probably why his social security benefits are so low and he isn’t receiving derivative benefits based on his former spouses’ earnings records.

  42. Roxann Harrison says:

    My husband (age 64) and I (age 54) were married Sept. 3, 2012. He received Social Security benefits ~ $12k in 2012. We found that 85% of his benefits are taxable in 2012, due to my income level slightly over $44k in 2012. I got less than $200 back and typically receive $2k. My husband has stated he will be filing for a divorce, since he has ‘lost money’ by having to pay taxes now and probably forever in the future. We do not share bank accounts and I pay all the bills. It’s a sad state of affairs we live in where $44k is considered a ‘high earner’ and requires taxing a previously non-taxed benefit. Just doesn’t seem fair and I’m not sure who to start the fight with. Seems this law has been unchanged since its inception in 1983.

  43. maureen stepp says:

    My husband and I were legally married for over 10 yrs., separated during that time. If my husband got remarried during that time with or without a divorce will that affect my getting benefits. As far as I know he didn’t get a divorce.

    • First of all, bigamy is illegal in this country, so if your husband remarries without getting a divorce he is in big trouble. If you are not divorced from him, you will be eligible for spousal benefits. If you and he divorce, then you’ll be entitled to divorced spouse derivative benefits.

  44. maureen stepp says:

    He is deceased now. I am 66 yrs. What if he got a divorce that I didn’t know about? Would I still qualify for survivor benefits? I did get a divorce after 10 yrs.

  45. My mom was married for 24 years and got divorced in 1998. My dad retired and started collecting his Social Security benefits in 2009. My mom will turn 65 in a couple months and was recently given advice that she should start collecting her lower benefit now until she is 66. Then switch next year when she turns 66 to collect 50% of my dad’s benefit, which is more than her benefit. Is this really an option for her, to switch from her benefit to his? If so, will she really get 50% of his benefit if she starts collecting early on her benefit or will it be reduced to less than 50%?

    • If your mom begins getting social security before her full retirement age of 66, she will get reduced benefits, whether she is collecting on her own record or her ex-spouse’s record. Her benefits will be reduced in perpetuity. The only exception is that if he dies in the future, she can switch to full survivor benefits, which will not be reduced even though she began collecting early.

      So if she intends to collect early, she should collect based on her former spouse’s history if that would produce a higher benefit.Matter of fact, if she applies before full retirement age, she doesn’t get to choose — she gets the highest benefit.

      • Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I had a feeling the advice she received was incorrect. The unfortunate part is that she received this advice from a worker at her local SSA office. Your answer is very helpful.

  46. Apologies in advance if this question has been asked and answered before…

    My father recently passed away. My mother and he we’re married for over 30 years and divorced several years ago. She had almost no income during their marriage thus very little Social Security credit of her own. She remarried at age 62 and remains married today. Is she eligible for some portion of my father’s benefits now that he has passed?

    • Yes, she should be able to get widow’s benefits since she was 60 or older when she remarried. She will get those benefits if they exceed her own benefits and the spousal benefits she is eligible to receive from her current husband’s history.

  47. I was married for 14 years to first husband and then divorced, married to someone else 24 years ago and my divorce from him will be final one month before my 62 birthday. Second husband was not a good provider. If I can file for first husbands ss benefits how can I tell if his amount will be be greater than second husbands amount? I do not have first husbands ss information, how do I go about this? Not being a gold digger but I need the most I can get. Also, do I have to be divorced two years from my last husband to file on my first husbands benefits? I keep seeing that 2 year divorce thing and can’t determine if they mean from first husband or last husband. Please help me, I can’t afford an attorney.

    • Yes, you can receive benefits based on your first husband’s earnings history, since you will be single at the time you apply. If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for benefits but is eligible to do so (62 or older), then you can apply as long as you and he were divorced for two years or longer. Once you apply for benefits, social security will determine which record will give you the highest benefits.

  48. My husband are filing for divorce this year. We have been married since July 5, 2003. In order for me to be eligible for derivative benefits in the future do we need to wait until after July 5, 2013 to file divorce papers, or does the divorce just need to be final after July 5 2013?

  49. I was married for 25 years and got divorce last April. If I get married again at the time of retirement can I collect SS benefits from my previous marriage? I now 46

    • Once you are 62, if you are unmarried you can collect based on the earnings history of a former spouse to whom you were married for 10 years or longer and who is eligible to collect benefits. If you are married when you reach age 62, you can collect based on your current husband’s earnings history, not your former husband.

  50. I recently got married April 1st 2012 to my husband. He is 60 years old and he has never put into social security in his life. He was married to a woman around 20 years and she worked for many years and put into social security. Could he get some of her social security benefits when he turns 62 years old. Thank you!

    • Your husband could have received reduced divorced-spouse benefits at age 62, were it not for his remarriage. When heremarrie he gave up his rights to divorced-spouse benefits, but he would be eligible to collect spousal benefits based on your earnings history when you apply for benefits. If he was at least 60 when he remarried and later his former spouse dies, he could receive survivor benefits based on her record.

  51. I am 64 and was married to my ex-wife for 11 years. I have been married to my second wife, who is 36, for five years. I took early Social Security at 62 and receive $1,200 per month. My ex-wife worked at a state job for 30 years and receives a whopping pension of $4,000 per month. Will she be eligible for widow”s benefits after I die? What about my second wife? In 30 years, how much would she be eligible for? Does she have anything to fear regarding my first wife applying for widow’s benefits?

    • Your ex-wife will be eligible for survivor benefits when you die, but they will be offset by about 2/3 of her pension under the Government Pension Offset rules, so it is likely that would eliminate any benefit she otherwise could receive, and she’ll get nothing. Your current wife can receive reduced widow’s benefits as early as age 60, or full benefits if she waits until age 66, provided that you are deceased at that time and she has not remarried (or if she did remarry, she remarried at age 60 or older). Her full benefits would be the benefit you were eligible to receive. If you have children under the age of 16 at the time of your death, they can receive benefits as well. Whether or not your former spouse applies for benefits on your earnings history does not affect your current wife’s rights.

      • To follow up, if I die in in 15 years and my second wife applies for benefits in 30 years, would she also be eligible for cost of living increases that went into effect over that entire period of time?

      • O. Braddy says:

        Employees of the State of Georgia pay SS premiums, so do not come under the Government Pension Offset Rule of reduced SS benefits. I assume other state employment is the same. This would need to be checked into.

  52. I have been married since September 2009. I will be filing for divorce next week. My questions is……I am on Social Security Disability. I received the Retroactive amount the month after we were married. I spent some of the money paying off his bills he had prior to us getting married and 2 down payments on motorcycles. Can I recover any of that money from him in the divorce? As I said all was paid out of my Retroactive Social Security Disability.

    Thank You

    • Check with your attorney. In many states, if you use your separate property (SS disability retroactive payment) to pay his separate debt, it is considered that you made a gift to him, and you can’t get reimbursement. But maybe you have a separate property interest in his motorcycles because of your separate property contribution to the down payments.

  53. Hi ginita,
    My husbands x wife was recently diagnoised with cancer, shes only 51. They were married at least 10 yrs and she has filed and approved based on my husbands ss diabilty benefits. He is 57 and stiil working. Is she entitled to his full amount or just half of his amount showing on his old statement. Thank you

  54. I was married for more than 10 years and then divorced. I am presently 62 years of age, unmarried, and have not yet filed for social security on my own earnings record. My social security retirement benefit will be greater than the social security retirement benefit my former spouse will receive. If I wait until my full retirement age before applying for social security retirement benefits, and my former spouse will be age 62 at that time, would I be eligible to choose to receive one-half of my former spouse’s social security retirement benefits (even though those benefits would be less than the benefit on my earnings record) and to defer receipt of my social security benefit until age 70? When reviewing some materials, they appear to indicate that I am not allowed to collect on my former spouse’s earnings if my retirement benefit on my earnings would be higher than that of my former spouse. However, other materials I have read seem to indicate that if I wait until I am at full retirement age before receiving retirement benefits I can at that time choose to receive one-half of my former spouse’s retirement benefit (even though it would be lower than my retirement benefit) and allow my retirement benefit to increase 8% per year until I am age 70. At age 70 I would then begin to collect on my own earnings record. Could you clarify the correct information for me? Thank you very much.

    • You are correct. If you wait until your full retirement age, you can choose which benefit to get. So you can collect the lesser amount, based on your ex-spouse’s record, and then receive delayed benefits on your own history at age 70, enhancing those benefits to 132% of what you would have received had you begun collecting on your own history at age 66. If you decided to collect before full retirement age of 66, then you would be forced to take the higher benefit, and couldn’t choose to take the lesser divorced spouse benefits.

      Now, a word of warning — you aren’t the only one confused by the rules, and you may find that someone at social security administration tells you that you can’t choose to take the lesser benefit at age 66. Just ask to speak to someone else, or hang up and call back, until you find someone there who understands the rules.

  55. M. Andrews says:

    My parents were married for 51 years when my mother passed away at age 73. My father remarried a little over two years ago (at age 77) to a woman (also 77) who had never been married. My father passed away in November. Is his new wife entitled to receive survivor benefits, or would they have had to have been married for at least 10 years?

  56. I am in a quandry. My first husband and I divorced after 18 yrs. of infidlities, that I found out about late in the marriage. He married someone 16 yrs younger and is currently 67. After the divorce, he made quite a bit of money, which didn’t happen while we were married. I even ended up going bankrupt because he was out of work for a year.
    I remarried after 5 years and now have been married for 20 years. Fifteen years ago I was deemed disabled and collected disabilty form SS and disability from the company I worked for. I am 63 and this long term disabilty will end when I am 65. It is 2/3 of my income. My current husband never has made very much money and wants to retire but we don’t have the money required. I have high medical bills sometimes over $10,000.00/yr.
    If I divorced my current husband, I would not be making approx.$13,000.00 per year. Finacially, would this
    be better for me as far as all my health care requirements and qualifying for help? And then apply for my ex-husbands social security benefits? I do not have his social security number and don’t know how to get it. This is pretty desperate but I do not know how we are going to live. My current husband is 70.
    I would appreciate any advise.

    • I doubt that divorcing now would help. You are getting SS disability, and until that converts to SS retirement benefits at age 66, you can’t collect divorced spouse benefits. I don’t know what your own retirement benefits would be at age 66, so I don’t know whether your own benefits exceed the divorced spouse benefits you would receive from either spouse, or the spousal benefits you’d receive from your current spouse. Perhaps that’s the $13,000 you say you are receiving now.

      And I know nothing about your current health care benefits or the health care benefits you’d receive if you were single instead of married, either state or federal benefits. And those benefits are in flux, with congress continuing to discuss cuts and restructuring, so even that could change. But once you are 65 you will be eligible for the Medicare program, and that’s less than two years away.

      What I do know is that not having your ex-husband’s social security number is not a problem, since social security has that information.

      Here’s what you can do — you can contact social security administration and ask what benefits you’d be eligible for at retirement age based on your former husband’s earnings history if you and your husband divorced, and what you’d be eligible for on your own history. YOu can compare that to the spousal benefit you would receive (50% of his full benefits) to see what would give you more. And you didn’t mention whether your current husband is collecting social security benefits — if he is not, he should apply for them right away, even if he continues to work.

  57. Thanks so much for the information.
    Currently, I am collecting the 13,000.00 on my SS disability benefits. I am not in good health due to rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. My current husband is in business for himself and must pay all expenses, payroll taxes, etc. Together, our gross income is too much to qualify for help with medicine or medical expenses, which run high. I am on AARP Medicare supplement for health care. My current husband is drawing social security benefits plus working.
    So, what I am understanding from your above reply, I should contact SS on what my retirement benefits would be at 66 for myself and what they would be from my ex. Would asking that question to Social Security jeopardize my future because of still being married? You said they can find ex’s SS number?
    Should I call SS office locally or federally? Just want to get my ducks in a row.

  58. If my ex husband who is now deceased remarried, who is entitled to his survivor benefits?

  59. I was married over 10 years my ex-wife has remarried, but it has been less than10 years is there a time frame on her second marriage for her not to be eligible to receive my SS benefits? And if she does stayed married over 10 years and gets a divorce can she clam which ever benefits are higher?
    Thank You!

    • If she has remarried, she isn’t eligible for divorced spouse benefits. If she divorces after 10 years, she can claim divorced spouse benefits on your record, her other ex-spouse’s record, or her own record, whichever is higher. None of this affects what you receive — your benefits remain constant, no matter whether she is getting benefits based on your earnings record or not.

  60. My mom married a man almost twenty years ago. Within six months, they separated, but they never divorced. He recently passed away. Even though they have not been living together in almost twenty years, but were still considered married, would she still qualify for survivors’ benefits?

  61. I was married for 18 years. Have been divorced now for 6 years. My boyfriend & I just moved in together he has good medical insurance & i do not have any. We have talked about getting married so I can qualify for his medical insurance. Im am 43 years old have some minor health issues. What type of benefits will I be able to qualify for when I retire. Want to know which would be best for me.

    • When you retire, you will get social security based on your earnings record.
      If you are married at the time you divorce, you could get spousal benefits equal to 50% of his benefits, if that is greater than benefits based on your own record.
      If you are widowed at the time of your retirement, you can get widow benefits equal to 100% of your deceased spouse’s benefits, or your own, whichever is greater.
      If you are divorced at the time of your retirement, you can get your own benefits or 50% derivative benefits based on any ex-spouse to whom you were married for at least 10 years.

  62. marlene bloss says:

    I was married to a veterinarian for 11 years and divorced and remarried. I will be 62 in April. My question: Since my current husband makes less than my former husband would it be reasonable to divorced my current husband and collect from my former vet husband? Also, will the SS office supply me with the amount of money allowed to me if I can collect.


    • It has to be 10 years or longer — for example, if you were married on August 9, 1968 and divorced on August 8, 1978, you wouldn’t qualify for derivative social security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record.

      • This TOTALLY destroyed me! Married 6/18/76 date on divorce 6/17/86.I was denied.This affects my medicare too! I only have 34 quarters in and can no longer work.When my money runs out, I will have no choice but go to the garage! I am too tired to care anymore!

  64. Hi Ginita, I have learned alot reading your site thank you. My question is, I am a divorced 57 year old man. If I were to re-marry and then pass away in the next year or 2 would my new wife be eligible for my survivor benefits even though we are not married for 10 yrs prior to death ?? And if so, what percentage of my benefits would she qualify for ? Thank you

    • Yes, your widow would qualify for widows benefits based on your earnings history. She’d get 100% if she waited until age 66, and a reduced amount if she began collecting between 60 and 66.

      • you keep mentioning age 65 as FRA such as this case, do you know the age of the spouse? probably needs to wait to 66 for FRA. Also it sounds like this man is in poor health if he is asking what happens if he dies in a year or two, to collect the new wife must have been married to him for at least 9 mo. [with some exceptions] but the exceptions don’t apply if he was not expected to live at least 9 mo.

        • Thanks for adding this, McCall. And sorry about the typo — age 66 is the full retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954. As for being required to be married for at least 9 months at the date of death, that is correct, but be aware there are many exceptions to that rule, including whether you have children together, you were receiving benefits based on someone else’s record at the time of marriage or were married to an institutionalized spouse who died,

  65. I had a 10 year marriage that ended in divirce, then I remarried at 45 and was widowed at 54..

    I have very litttle SS benefit on my own record because of being out of the workforce for 25 years.

    If my ex were to die, when I reach full retirement age would I get 100% of his SS benefit.

    Also wonder if I can get 100% of late husbands SS benefit.. I know its one or the other/not both.

    Ex’s would be the greatest amount. I wish him well, so I am just curious in the event of his demise.

    • If your ex died, you’d be treated as a widow under the law (even though you weren’t married at the time of his demise) – so you could collect 100% survivor benefits based on whichever history gave you the most.

  66. I have an interesting situation. My boyfriend has been married for about 11 years now however his wife “abandon” their home and left to Japan. He has had no contact with her since the day she left. He never got divorced because he had no way of contacting her for a divorce since she left. Now he heard from his mother that she is planning to come back in May. Does she have any right to collect these benefits?

  67. Ginita hello. I was speaking with my cousin and she has a question for you if ok. She is age 62. Her husband died 4 years ago and she is still working full time. I told her she should be able to begin getting his SS benefit. The question is, if she claims as a Widow now would she get the MAXIMUM AMOUNT he would have gotten ( he would have been age 66 now if still living ) and his benefit would greatly pay more than hers….. or should she wait until she turns age 66 to maximize etc ?? Thank you for your assistance.

    • If she claimed widow benefits now those benefits would be reduced because she is under age 66. If she is still working, and she earns over $15,120, her benefits will further be reduced by $1 for every $2 she earns over that amount. You can analyze the situation based on her actual income and prospective benefits, but it seems to me she’d be better off waiting until age 66 to collect her widow’s benefits.

  68. I’m not forsure if I’m understanding this correctly. If I’ve been married for more than 10 years and I got a divorce and remarried. I can collect on my exspouses social security benefits when I retire even though I am still married to someone else?

  69. Can the wife collect Derivitve SS Retirement if she is 66 and he is 53 or does she have to wait until he is of retirement age?

    • He has to be of retirement age (62) if they are divorced, but he doesn’t need to file to collect benefits. If they are still married, he must actually file to collect benefits before she can collect.

      • Ganita,
        Took the Divorce workshop w/you 3 times. It was wonderful, informative.
        If I am Divorced (was married 24 yrs), collecting alimony, I am 61, my ex is 58, can he force me to collect social security, & give up alimony while he is still working & he is not collecting social security. My Social Security benefits would be much lower than 1/2 of his? thanks

  70. My mother in law is 85 been divorced over 25 years BUT married 30 years.. the ex husband died 20 years ago, can she collect back over those 20 years OR only go back 6 month and she loses all the rest.. she didnt know anything about these benefits available to her..

    Thank you so much !!

    • I imagine they will go back only 6 months, but she will find out when she files. Be sure she does that ASAP. If they made an error (your mother in law had told them of her prior marriage when she applied for her own benefits, for example), maybe she can convince them to go back further.

  71. If I was married for 8 years divorced then married the same spouse again for 4 years, does this count toward the 10 year divorced spouse rule?

  72. I am at 66 FRA age divorced,My ex-spouse is 59, working and want to delay SSA benefit until age 70…

    People at SSA did not answer question, how ex-spouse delay reflects on my “maximized” timing when apply for my ex-spousal benefit?

    1) At what time should I apply after waiting 3 years or 7 years if ex-spouse delays SSA benefits to 70?

    2) What is name of SSA paper forms, download, receive ex-spousal benefits?

    3) What is the paper form that stop receiving my own personal SSA earned benefits and start receiving my ex-spousal higher benefits?

    4) Since divorce, who is responsible to report change of ex-spouse, examples; death or disability. How
    do SSA ex-spouse benefit update information of ex-spouse life death status?

    Thank you for answering these four questions

    • This very confusing SSA divorced spousal information

      When can spouse start Social Security benefits?
      Your spouse can start SSA benefits only on spouse’s earnings, at age 62.

      However, your spouse can not start spouse’s benefit until you already started your own SSA benefit.

    • 1) At what time should I apply after waiting 3 years or 7 years if ex-spouse delays SSA benefits to 70?
      His delay in collecting benefits doesn’t affect you. So you can begin collecting when he is 62, assuming that divorced spouse benefit will exceed your own. Otherwise, if you are collecting your own benefits, you’ll just continue collecting on your own record since that is the greater benefit.

      2) What is name of SSA paper forms, download, receive ex-spousal benefits?
      I am not aware of a paper form – most applications are done online these days.

      3) What is the paper form that stop receiving my own personal SSA earned benefits and start receiving my ex-spousal higher benefits?
      Contact the social security administration and ask that be done – I’m not aware of a form.

      4) Since divorce, who is responsible to report change of ex-spouse, examples; death or disability. How
      do SSA ex-spouse benefit update information of ex-spouse life death status?
      SSA generally receives notice of the death from public records, but anyone else can notify them as well.

  73. 1) At what time should I apply if divorced ex-spouse delays SSA benefits to 70?
    His delay in collecting benefits doesn’t affect you. So you can begin collecting when he is 62, assuming that divorced spouse benefit will exceed your own.

    Please also advise, what time period is the 50%, ex-spousal, benefit comparison reference established?

    I must wait until ex-spouse is eligible at age 62. Year 2016 SSA calculates the 50% reference amount
    for ex-spousal benefit. Can I pre-estimate what is 2016 amount of a 50% benefit before waiting for three
    years to apply at Social Security to receive a benefit comparison information

    What is the time when the ex-spousal, 50% benefit is locked up as finalized comparison reference?

    Thank you very much for sharing

  74. I have been married for 15 and and we have been together for just over 16 years. My husband told me that he wanted a divorce and that his lawyer told him that I was only entitled to 40%. I have raised 2 children. they are in their teens. i Worked to put myself through uni. I am now being told that I should not have the kids and that I have never looked after them.We both looked after the children when I was at uni but until then I raised the children myself. I am also being told that I have not put anything into the marriage. He has blinded a lot of people with lies about me, I know this to be true as many have come up to me and told me the are sorry for believing what they were told about me. How much should I get and can I get spouse maintenance and when I was working and doing uni I had to take time off due to him being drunk and my concern for the children.

    • The worst person to take legal advice from is your soon-to-be ex. You need to see an attorney pronto and find out what your rights are. Good luck to you — don’t listen to him, find out for yourself.

  75. If two people have been divorced for almost ten years, is there ANY reason one should need the other’s Social Security NUMBER to apply for benefits of any kind?? I’m NOT asking about the benefits, or the right to such. I am asking if an EX-SPOUSE ACTUALLY NEEDS THE NUMBER — can’t the organization (like SS) access that themselves? We are just very paranoid about “Identity Theft” and have no assurances of how carefully guarded an ex would keep this information.

    • If you are divorcing, you should keep your spouse’s social security number and your divorce papers, so you can prove to Social Security that you were married for more than ten years. Most people don’t have unique names, and social security will need the social security number to be able to ascertain which person by that name is your ex-spouse.

  76. I am 63 years old and am collecting my social security. My husband is 53 years old and still working. We are in the process of a divorce. In July we will be married 21 years. Can I collect his SS now and what happens if he dies before he is 66? Can I still collect? He has a pension and I refuse to sign off on it, am I right by not signing off?

    Thank you

    • You can collect spousal benefits once your husband applies for benefits on his own account, when he reaches retirement age. If he dies, you will be eligible for widow benefits.

      You don’t say what you aren’t signing off on for his pension, so it’s hard to answer that question. For most pensions, the spouse will continue to receive benefits after the pensioner’s death, unless she signs documents at the time of the pensioner’s retirement.

  77. I am doing this research for my mom, who was divorced from my dad over 30 years ago. She remarried, her 2nd husband passed away, and now she is collecting benefits based on his record. I believe my father (mom’s 1st husband) made much more money over his career than did her 2nd. So I will recommend she apply based on the 1st husband’s record. Only problem is documentation. She doesn’t have his SSN, and I don’t think he would provide it either to her or me (long story). How do we get around that? Thanks in advance.

    • Go ahead and contact Social Security, but I’m guessing that the widow’s benefits equal to 100% of her 2nd husband’s benefits will be greater than divorced spouse’s benefits equal to 50% of her first husband’s benefits.

      Social Security Admin can look up your father’s social security number, with enough information about him (so they don’t confuse him with someone else with the same name). Your mom might need to prove that she was married to him for more than 10 years by providing a conformed copy of her divorce decree.

      • Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t realize widow’s benefits are a different percent than divorced spouse benefits.

        • It might be worth checking, in any case. Nobody except my father knows exactly how much made over his career–we could be in for a surprise…

  78. deborah says:

    He wants me to sign off so I can’t get any of it in our divorce settlement. And as I understand your answer to his social security, I will have to wait till I’m 76. And I won’t be able to receive widow benefits because we will be divorced.

    Thank you for your response

    • In most states, a pension earned during the marriage is marital property and the non-employee spouse is entitled to a portion. If you are getting more of something else (such as equity in your house or funds from another retirement plan) in exchange for signing off that you won’t take any of his pension, that’s fine.

      Back to social security, if he dies you will be entitled to widow benefits, which are called divorced spouse survivor benefits.

  79. I am trying to get an answer for a friend of mine about her ability to collect a former spouses Social Security. They were married for 29 years and then divorced. She remarried at age 64 to a former british citizen (now usa citizen). He has no right to receive any Social Security benefits. Can my friend collect benefits from her first husbands social security. If not what would she have to do to become eligible? She does not have enough quarters to qualify under her own SS. If she cannot collect spousal benefits is there anyway she can become eligible for Medicare? Thanks in advance for your assistance.
    Tony B

    • If she is married, then she is not eligible to collect on a former spouse’s social security. If she were to divorce, then she could become eligible to collect.

      If the only thing preventing her Medicare coverage is not reaching the 40 quarter threshold for paying Medicare taxes during employment, she can still “buy-in” to Medicare coverage by paying a monthly premium to receive coverage under Medicare Parts A and B. Contact the nearest Social Security office for more information on this option.

  80. marriage is an old ideal. all it creates is misery

  81. O. Braddy says:

    I will be 70 in July. My husband, who will be 66 in August, plans to begin drawing his SS benefits that month. Will I be eligible to draw spousal benefits from his record at that time, also? I am currently drawing benefits from my first husband, but I know my current husband’s benefits would be more. Furthermore, if I am allowed to draw spousal benefits from him, will this amount revert to the amount I’m currently drawing if we should divorce after that time?

    • Yes, you can draw spousal benefits once your husband applies for benefits. If you divorce, and you were married to him for 10 years or longer, then you can continue drawing the same amount based on his record. If you were not married for at least 10 years at the time of your divorce, then you could draw your own benefits or your prior spouse’s benefits, whichever is more, just as you have been now.

  82. Jennie M.F. says:

    Hi I was married to my husband for 1 and 1/2 years, then got divorce, then we got together again a few months later. We did not legally got married but still leaving together now for five years? In my state exist what calls Common marriage laws, so is like we don’t need the license to be husband and wife. Do we need the marriage license for my benefits of SS? So should I get married now again to get benefits and so he gets mine too?

    Thank You!

    • Here’s what I found at the social security website:

      Social Security follows the state laws. So, check the laws in your state. To get survivors or spouses benefits you generally must live in a state that recognizes common-law marriage. However, most states (even those that do not recognize in-state common-law marriage) will recognize a common-law marriage entered into in another state that does.

  83. Kris Batcheller says:

    My question is whether or not taking my retirement now, at 62, has any effect of what I collect from my ex husband if he retires at 66? i know that I will collect whatever the higher amount is, but does my collecting money now “freeze” the rate I can collect from him? Do I collect half of what he earns now, or half of what he earns when HE turns 66? Thanks!

    • If you begin collecting at age 62, you will get reduced benefits, so waiting until your full retirement age of 66 will give you a larger benefit.

      Your reduced benefit will be based on his benefit based on his earnings record — as he continues working, his benefit may increase slightly, thus increasing what you get slightly.

  84. Tina Jones says:

    I am 65. I started getting my spouse’s SS derivative benefit at the age of 62 and Medicare under his SS number at the age of 65. We’ve been married for about 5 years. I have three questions: 1. Shall I be able to continue receiving my SS derivative benefit and Medicare if we divorce before 10 years of marriage? 2. If the answer to the first question is “Yes”, shall I be able to continue receiving my SS derivative benefit and Medicare if he dies? 3. If the answer to the first question is “Yes”, shall I be able to continue receiving my SS derivative benefit and Medicare if I remarry?


    • You are eligible for social security benefits and free Medicare Part A based on your spouse’s work history if:
      • You are currently married and your spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits (either retirement or disability). In addition, you must have been married for at least one year before applying.
      • You are divorced and your former spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits (either retirement or disability). In addition, you must have been married for at least 10 years and you must be single.
      So if you divorce before 10 years, you won’t be eligible. But if you don’t divorce until you reach the 10 year mark, and you then remarry, your remarriage won’t destroy your eligibility since it occurred after the age of 60.

  85. Tina Jones says:

    I started collecting my spouse’s reduced derivative SS benefit at the age of 62. I’m 65 now. If we divorce after 10 years of marriage, will the amount of my reduced derivative SS benefit become half of my spouse’s SS benefit?


  86. Tina Jones says:

    Thank you, Jinita! I’ve been getting my spouse’s reduced derivative SS benefits and Medicare A since the age of 62. Shall I lose it if we divorce before 10 years of marriage?

  87. Tina Jones says:

    Does separation before 10 years of marriage affect the eligibility to derivative SS benefits at divorce after 10 years of marriage in PA?


  88. Marilyn says:

    I was married over 10 years before divorcing.

    I took my social security benefit early before full retirement age.

    Would I be eligible for any benefit from my ex-spouse in the future should he become deceased?

    • Yes, if he dies you will become eligible for surviving divorced spouse benefits which will be equal to what he was eligible to receive, if that exceeds what you are receiving on your own record at the time.

  89. Marilyn says:

    Thank you so much!!!

    I don’t think the Social Security rep explained this clearly.

  90. I am currently 55 years old and eligible to receive surviving divorced spouse benefits at age 60. (My ex-husband passed away 8yrs ago at age 49). At age 60, would I be entitled to receive my ex-spouses full benefit amount, or just a percentage of the survival benefit (as my full retirement age is 66 and 8months)?

    • Survivor benefits can start any time between age 60 and your full retirement age. If the benefits start at an earlier age, they are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before full retirement age. Starting at age 60 will give you 30% less than if you wait to your full retirement age.

  91. I was recently divorced in November 2013,I was married for 23 years. We have always lived in California and we both still reside here. My question is.. One my divorce papers no where does it say I am entitled to half of his SS so does that mean I wont get the benefits (when he becomes of the age to apply?) Or does it not matter if divorce papers state that I’m entitled or not all I have to do is apply when the time comes?
    Thank you

  92. I’ll make this short and sweet. I was married less than 10 years, not near retirement age, ex isn’t either, ex remarried, we have a child who is 11. I have a chronic illness, in the event of my death prior to the child reaching 18. does the child get any of my SS survivor benefits? If so, is there any protection so that the child actually gets it and not just a windfall for the ex? Thanks.

  93. If my ex wife claims the 50% benefit she is entitled to, as her ex husband, will I receive my full benefits?

  94. I am 61 years old, unmarried and drawing ex-spouse widow’s benefits (on my ex-spouse’s record) since January 2012 for a 19+ year marriage. As I worked thru August 2012, I was able to draw from July 2012 on those benefits.

    I received a letter from SSA that as of May 2013, I was entitled to monthly disability benefits.
    In said letter, it stated they were stopping my widow’s benefits because I will be receiving equal or larger benefits under my own record.

    As I know several women who are receiving both benefits, I want to know why mine are being stopped. It doesn’t seem fair. He married within 3 weeks of his death and the new wife is not eligible to draw on his account. When did the rule change and would I be able to get a copy of the SOP stating such?

    • Generally you get your own benefits, or widows benefits based on your former spouse’s history, but not both. You can certainly contact SSA and ask them to provide you with the law behind it. You might also talk to your friends to pin down exactly what benefits they are getting and why, and whether they have any paperwork that might explain the rules under which they are getting their benefits. If you are correct about their benefits, knowing the rules under which they are collecting both benefits may help your case.

  95. My husban is 43 and was married to his ex for 14 years. She recieves SSI benefits. We have been married for 5 years. Who recieves what from his benefits when he retires? thanks

  96. Barbara Clarke says:

    Once both the spouse and the ex-spouse have turned 62, I understand that the ex-spouse can claim on her husband’s record, and receive half of his benefits. I also understand that her benefits will be reduced by approximately 30%, since she is taking them early. How does when the husband files for HIS benefits affect HER benefits? Is it twice as good for the ex-spouse to not only wait until FRA, but also have her husband wait until he reaches FRA, or possibly even later?

    • As a divorced spouse, you are entitled to benefits based on his earnings history. As he continues to work, that benefit may go up a little, but probably not much. Other than that, your benefit isn’t affected by his decision to retire and take social security benefits. For example, if you are collecting benefits, then he decided to retire and collect benefits at age 62, it wouldn’t affect what you receive. If he retired at 66 and collected benefits, it wouldn’t affect what you receive. If he waits until age 70 to collect, his benefits would be enhanced by 8% for each year he waits beyond his retirement age, but — all together now – it wouldn’t affect what you receive. Your benefit is always based on his earnings record, and isn’t affected by when he begins collecting.

  97. Glenna Lewis says:

    I am 63 years old, and divorced. I was married 18 years. My ex-husband is 50, and earns over $100,000.00 per year from a business he owns. I am currently receiving $1,900.00 per month in spousal support with the assumption that I can get a minimum wage job to offset my income. I have not been able to find employment mainly because of my age, and the situation will probably get worse as I get older. I was told by my ex that when I start receiving social security benefits at 66, the spousal support will be reduced by the amount I receive from social security. If I am not working, does this sound right?

  98. Brenda G. says:

    I am 60 years old, and still working. My ex-husband (was married for 15 years) has been deceased for the past 4 years. I am unmarried, and am wondering if I would be eligible for survivor’s benefits. He did not receive very much per month (he was of full retirement age when he starting collecting Social Security). If I receive survivor’s benefits, how does that affect my own Social Security benefits, as I do believe they would be more than his, or can I receive the survivor benefits until I reach full retirement age, and then receive my own Social Security benefits?

    • You may apply for survivor benefits as early as age 60, but those benefits will be reduced if you apply early than your full retirement age of 66. And if you keep working, your benefits are reduced further by 50% of what you make over $15,120, so you might get nothing. Also, if you claim benefits before full retirement age you have to take the highest benefit you are entitled to, so in that case it is your own benefit.

  99. Barbara Clarke says:

    thank you!

  100. I have been collecting 1/2 of my husbands social security as alimony. Also, I collect my own social security because it was higher than my husbands. I have a divorce decree that states I receive this alimony until I die. I now want to collect on husbands full social security but I found out it is 120.00 less than what i receive now. How does that work? Can I receive both his social security on widows benefits and alimony from his ss. He retired at 62, We were married for 20 years.
    thanks, Jean

    • Your right to receive Social Security is separate and apart from your right to receive alimony.Alimony is governed by your divorce decree and Social Security is governed by federal law.
      Usually your right to receive alimony ends upon his death, but you’ll need to look at your divorce decree to see what it says. If it ends upon his death, then you would not receive Social Security survivor (widows) benefit and alimony after his death. As far as Social Security benefits are concerned, you will ask to receive the highest benefit you are entitled to, based either on your own earnings record or on his.

      • My divorce decree states I receive alimony until I die. Doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe that is to protect me in case it stops. Seems to me that it makes sense after death, one doesn’t collect alimony. However, it is taken out of his social security.

  101. I was married just short of 35 years by one month. I’m 63 and my ex is 65. Neither of us have remarried. He began drawing SS retirement at the age of 62. I continue to work and am attempting to do so until I’m 66, but I have MS which will be a factor determining how long I can do so.

    Will I have a problem applying for and being eligible to receive reduced benefits based on my ex-husband’s current benefits, and is the fact that I’m an educator preclude me from doing so? I have worked sporadically over the years beginning in my teens through my adult life for companies that collected SS from me, but always on a part time basis.

    Somewhere while researching this topic, I read that another individual who attempted to collect ex-spouse benefits was denied three times.

    Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

    • Additional information: I have held my full time position as an educator for 23 years which means that I’ve been putting money into a pension not managed by the SSA. I’ve always earned more than my ex-husband, so my question is whether or not I’m even eligible to collect benefits based on my ex-husband’s earnings over the 35 years we were married.

      • The good news is that you are eligible for divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-husband’s earnings history. The bad news is that due to the Government Pension Offset, those benefits will be offset by 2/3 of your educator pension, which may reduce them to nothing, or pretty darn close.

  102. I just started collecting reduced social security benefits a few months ago (2013) at age 62. My ex-husband of 23 years is one year younger than I am and doesn’t become 62 until March of next year, 2014. Can I apply for his benefits even though I am already receiving mine? He has made many times over what I made in income. If so, do I apply 3 months prior to his birthdate in January of 2014 or wait until his actual March 2014 birthdate to apply? Finally, I keep reading that ‘if your ex-spouse has not already applied for benefits, the ex-spouse can apply for them…”. Does that mean I must ‘apply for spousal benefits before he does’ to be eligible or I would be out of luck? Thanks.

    • When you applied for Social Security benefits, the Soc Sec Administration probably gathered info from you about your prior marriage, and so they might switch you over to divorced spouse benefits automatically. But do contact them next January and remind them that you are eligible to switch to the higher benefit on his record once he is 62, so they don’t forget. It isn’t necessary for him to have retired for you to begin collecting. That’s what it means when we say that even if your ex-spouse hasn’t yet applied for benefits, you can still collect divorced spouse benefits based on his earnings record. (If you were still married to him, you’d have to wait until he applied for benefits to collect.)

  103. chacasity says:

    I was married to the father of my kids for 11 years. We divorced in September 2010 he remarried October 2010. He passed away march 2011.Should I be the one eligible to collect survivor benefits or the new wife?

  104. My ex husband and I were married in 1959, he left marriage 20 years later. He remarried and was married for almost 30 years, his wife died last year. I never did marry. We both draw SS from our individual earnings. We have remained friends and think we might remarry. If he or I die first, can the remaining spouse collect 1/2 of deceased SS and still collect their own full retirement?

    • If he dies, you are entitled to collect widow’s benefits equal to what he was eligible to receive, or your own benefits, whichever is higher, and he is likewise eligible to collect on your record. That is true whether you are married to each other or not. You cannot collect both your benefits and widow’s benefits.

  105. I submitted a comment yesterday – response was it was being looked at (my word), then last night I checked for your response, and the entire posting was gone. Is it still being looked at or just deleted.
    should I repost question? Thanks

  106. Joseph Kelly says:

    My mother and father were married for 23 years. She did not work during the marriage. She was raising six kids. My mother has never remarried. My father was remarried and divorced a second time. I believe the second marriage was longer than 10 years. He passed away in 1999. . His second ex wife passed a few years later in 2005 or 06. Is my mother eligible for spousal survivor’s benefits?

    It is not clear to me why, but, SSA has told my mother she is not eligible for my father’s benefits. After the divorce (1974), My mother worked for and retired from the County Office Education in California (COE). I do not believe she paid into SSA while she worked there. My mother does receive a retirement from COE. She has appealed to SSA years ago but was told she did not qualify for any part of my father’s SSA benefits. Is there a reason she would not be eligible for my father’s survivor benefits? I have read the letters from SSA and they do not address the issue directly. The response from SSA is more circumspect and does not reference any code or law.

    • Since your mother receives a pension from a government job in which she did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of her Social Security widow’s benefit is offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.

      The GPO reduces the amount of her Social Security widow’s benefits by two-thirds of the amount of her government pension. For example, if she receives a monthly county pension of $1200, two-thirds of that, or $800, must be used to offset her Social Security widow’s benefits. If she is eligible for an $800 widow’s benefit, that would be completely offset by the GPO and she would receive nothing. That is likely the problem — she is eligible for the widow’s benefits, but after the GPO the amount she receives is zero

  107. rosieray says:

    married for over 40 years. Both over 65 years of age. Husband receives pension as a city employee (paid no social security). I am collecting Social security (began at 65), am I entitiled to part of his pension in addition to my own social security or will I be penalized. Can I collect half of his pension plus my full social security (I would collect more on my social security than half his pension) at 66 FRA.

    Verifying what my entitilement is to his pension

  108. Ginita,

    What do you think of the following provision, which is included in a proposed marital settlement agreement? Doesn’t federal law control over CA law? Would you advise your client to agree to this provision?

    Each party recognizes that there is a Social Security retirement program to which contributions may have been made by a party from community property earnings during the marriage. Each party further acknowledges that a spouse married for ten (10) or more years to a party (the “earning spouse”) who has contributed to Social Security has independent Social Security rights under the Social Security Act (“derivative benefits”), but no community property rights under present California law in the earning spouse’s Social Security benefits. Acknowledging this state of the law, and recognizing that the law may be subject to change, each party waives and quitclaims any right to claim an interest in the Social Security benefits to be received by the other.

    • Yes, that’s a standard clause in all marital settlement agreements in California. It says that any social security benefits either of you receives are your separate property and not community property. So the benefits you receive aren’t divided with the other spouse as community property. It doesn’t affect your right to claim social security benefits, including derivative benefits on his earnings record.

  109. so i was married Oct. 5th 1991 divorced Sept. 7, 2001 in Massachusetts. But i blieve the divorce was not finalized for three months after Sept 7th? so that would be Dec. 2001 correct? does that make the 10 yr Mark?

  110. You all are a bunch of blood suckers. Why don’t you go and get a job and live a independent life. It seems that you want to be independent but still need to leach off or your spouses. And you still think you are independent. How ironick is that?

  111. I was married for 30-1/2 years, took care of grandchildren for 10 months and my husbands mother for 3 years and 10 months without any pay. I am short 2 years and 8 months to get S.S. on my work record.

    We divorced in 1965 and I remarried 10 days before my 60th birthday. He passed away 2 years ago and I will be 75 years old in Dec. Hard to believe that this could be so costly for me.

    I know my ex planned for s.s. for me and paid for it–is there anyway I might be able to get social security for my remaining years. I do not want to divorce my husband.

  112. I was married for more than ten years. then divorced and then my ex married someone else. Then he died. am I entitled to his ss benefits?
    I am not a US resident though.

    • If you are a US citizen or national, you may receive your payments outside the US. The same is true if you are a citizen of a Mexico or country in Central or South America (except Chile, Paraguay and Suriname), as long as you lived in the US for at least five years in relationship with your ex. If you don’t meet those requireents, then you must visit the US periodically to collect your benefits. Here’s a link to the Social Security notice that explains this: http://www.ssa.gov/international/61-011.pdf

  113. My husband and I were married 6/21/1997 and divorced in 2008. We got remarried to each other in 2009. If we get divorced this year, am I eligible for any of his benefits when I am older or will it be messed up because we remarried each other and divorced before another 10 years. Thank you.

    • You were married for more than ten years before you divorced, so you are entitled to claim divorced spouse benefits based on his earnings history. If you remain married to him this time ’round, you are entitled to spousal benefits based on his history.

  114. Jill RS says:

    Ginita, cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have stumbled across this site, and you must forgive me if I am asking a repetitive question. My husband and I are both 57, have been married since 1996. He is quite ill with a chronic bladder disease, pre-diabetic, blood clotting disorder, mental issues (attempted suicide twice), etc. etc. Relationship has been verbally abusive since the day we married. He was previously married, but she is remarried and out of the picture and not an issue. Kids are grown and gone. We owned a business that we sold and moved to another state. The business was solely in my name as we started it before his divorce to protect him from her coming after any money, and always remained that way. We have always filed jointly since marriage, so it is kind of a mute point. I have cared for this man since 2008 totally and solely, paperwork, doctors, meds, whatever. He is basically mentally incapacitated and tested that way while in hospital after his suicide attempt. I fought for and acquired his total disability which he received in 2009, with back benefits. We had many bills to pay, were uninsured at the time. He now gets Medicare, we pay AARP sup, and also receive state assistance for meds, food, etc.
    His verbal abuse has led to me having him removed from the home once, and intervention from the police on more than one occasion. I want to file for divorce and get on with my life, he wants to return to our former state, where he will need a ton of help from his dysfunctional family, but that is not my problem.
    By the time we are divorced before the end of 2013 I HOPE, we will own our home outright, and the only major bills are his. I can live quite frugally and will contact an attorney about retaining this home. My question is, with his total and permanent disability, am I entitled to any part of that once the divorce is final? Had heard I must wait until I am 62 to file a claim for a portion, or how does that work? I
    I have not been employed for many years as I have had to stay home to care for him, he cannot be left alone for very long. We sold the business in 2001 and were going to live off that money forever, but he squandered it away, and almost a half million dollars was gone in just 5 years. Complicated. I just need to know if I am entitled for a portion of his disability, do I have to wait til age 62, etc. I have no problems with social security for myself, our earnings were pretty equal. He receives only social disability, no SSI. Just want to file an uncontested divorce and be done with him, hopefully it will happen that way. He says he will leave me penniless as he will take his SSD with him, but he does owe me $50,000 that my father left me solely. Just more concerned about the disability, the lawyer can handle the rest. Thank you, get conflicting answers from SS, maybe you can straighten it out for me, just disability.

    • In most states disability benefits belong to the disabled spouse, though you may be entitled to spousal support based on his disability income. When you are 62 you can apply for social security benefits based on your own record or divorced spouse benefits based on his record, if that makes sense given your situation at the time.

  115. Donna Young says:


    I am 58 yrs old and on disability. I was married to my husband for 8 years; however, we continued to live together in Georgia (common law marriage) for an additonal 4 – 5 years. My question is can I draw his benefits as well since I am on disability. Additionally, we continued to file all our taxes together and even purchased a home during that time. What do I need to do to prove this and/or apply for additional benefits of my ex-husband?

    Thank you so much!

    • You didn’t say whether you divorced or not. If you were legally married for more than 10 years before you divorced, then you are entitled to derivative social security benefits when you are both at least 62. If you are still married to him, then you will be eligible for spousal benefits once he files, if you are 62 at that time. If you were married for 8 years and then divorced, then began a common law marriage immediately thereafter, and the total time married was over 10 years, then you would qualify. But if there were a gap between the divorce and your remarriage (common law), then you wouldn’t unless your current common law marriage lasts 10 years or longer. It’s complicated, so be sure of your facts before you inquire of social security

  116. Hi,

    My sister is 65 years olds, and was married to the same man twice. The first was Mar 16, 1968- Oct 8, 1976, which was 8 years, and then they remarried the same man Sept 16, 1981 and divorced May 2, 1985. When reseaching the 10 year marriage rule, I fournd a blog that a lawyer kept saying 10 years and then she seen a clause in the law that said the two marriages to the same man regardless of them getting married by the ended of the calendar year counted. Please help me, my sister is disabled and gets very little social security even though she is 65 years old. She couldn’t help it she loved a man worth marrying twice!!!! He recently passed away and I’m hoping you can find the clause that will entitle her to his social security. He vanished from her life and we are not sure if he remarried to another person or what. Please let me know if you can find anything in the law of survivors benefits of divorced spouses that will help her. Thanks for your help in advance.

    • If the remarriage took place no later than the end of the calendar year after the divorce, the two marriages can be combined for the purpose of satisfying the 10-year marriage requirement.
      That means she would have had to remarry him by December 31, 1977, but it was nearly 4 years later that she remarried him. So sorry, but the two marriages to the same man can’t be combined to meet the 10 year requirement.

  117. Misty Forbes says:

    If I made more money than my husband during a 10 year marriage, do I still qualify for his benefits when I get to the age or if he dies before I do? Also, if he was in the military for 22 years prior to our marriage and 1 year after we were married; do I qualify for benefits from the military as well? He is now receiving a disability check from the military (75%), He is 52. I don’t think he has me listed as his wife with military. We’ve been married 8 years. Thanks for your help.

    • If you made more money under the Social Security system, then though you would qualify for spouse/widow benefits, your benefits on your own record would be greater, so you’d collect your own benefits.

      Since you were not employed by the military, you will not get benefits. If your husband enrolled in the SBP program (survivor benefits), then upon his death you would get benefits as a survivor.

  118. Hello,
    My mom was married to my father until his death in 1998, they married in 1967. My mom is now 63 years old and was recently told by a family friend that she could collect retroactive survivors benefits dating back since my father passed away. This family friend just collected a large lump sum doing the same thing after many years of his wife’s passing. (At the time of my father’s passing, he was 72 years old and collecting SS – $880 per month in 1998.)

    My questions:
    Where can I find out details to see if my mom qualifies for this? (She was told SS will not disclose any info to her since they don’t like doing this.)

    She is not collecting SS yet since her benefits would be too little (around $700 a month) so she continues to work to build her benefits. Can she continue to work and collect survivor’s benefits if she doesn’t qualify for the lump sum?

    Will collecting survivor’s benefits affect her personal benefit payout later when she does apply for SS?
    Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

    • Alimony can be paid retroactively for up to six months if the surviving spouse was of full retirement age (66 in your mom’s case) for that entire period. But even if your mom were 66, that wouldn’t help, becuase her social security benefits would be reduced by 50% of all her earnings above the threshold for that year (currently $15,120). If she does decide to quit work and collect social security benefits, then until she is full retirement age she would get the greatest benefit available to her, either her own benefit or widow benefits. If she collects early, her benefits will be reduced. If she waits until full retirement age to begin collecting, she could choose to collect widow benefits until she is 70, thus letting her own benefits grow by 8% a year, then switch over to her own enhanced benefits at age 70. She’d have to make the calculations to see if that is of benefit to her. She can contact the Social Security Administration for more information about her own particular situation.

  119. collected ssa at age 62
    my own work record
    married 19 years
    divorced over 20 years
    ex spouse age 70 now
    i am age 68
    am i able to apply for ex spouse benefits on his record at this time
    ex spouseis collecting already
    thank you

    • yes, you can apply as long as you are both of social security age (62 or older). But when you first applied for social security benefits they probably calculated that your divorced spouse benefits were less than your own benefits, since they were required to pay you the greater amount of those two benefits.

  120. thank you for the reply.it is appreciated.. i was advised at ssa that ex spouses benefit was $11.00 greater than on my work benefit at 62..i have been collecting on my work record instead ..i will appky in august on his record does my age at FRA of 66 have any bearing as i am approaching the 69th birthday.thank you

  121. does my age at FRA of 66 have any bearing as i am approaching the 69th birthday.thank you
    an added comment

  122. Barbara says:

    I think I have this right. I was married for 12 years. Currently I am 57.if I collect my ex husbands SS at 62 I will not be able to remove his and collect mine at 66 at a higher rate.. I should wait and collect his at 66 and then remove his and collect my full bennies at 70. Is this correct?

    • If you begin collecting at age 62, you will receive reduced benefits because you are not yet of full retirement age. Further, if you apply before full retirement age, you cannot choose which benefit you recieve – it will be benefits based on your record or derivative benefits based on his earnings record, whichever is higher.

      At age 66 both of these impediments are removed: you will be able to get full benefits, and you can choose which record to collect from. So your best strategy is just what you proposeL wait until full retirement age of 66 to begin getting benefits, then get divorced spouse benefits and let your own benefits grow 8% a year until age 70, when you can switch over to those enhanced benefits.

  123. Barbara says:

    Thank you!

  124. I am 50. my ex husband is 52. We’ve been divorced 13 years and were married for 10.5 years. I’ve been disabled w/ RA since my late 20’s but have continued to work at least part-time throughout the last 25 years.

    My ex remarried after the 1st year & I have chosen not to. Are there any provisions in place for persons like me to draw from the ex-spouse’s benefits before age 62.

    Even if there are no separate guidelines for disabled persons to follow, what would you reccommend I do @ age 62? He has made substancially more $ than I have over the last 30 years. Shoulld I continue to draw from my own SSD until 66 before filing for his.

    Also, our divorce did not specifically address his pension and although I became disabled during our marriage, I chose not to request any sort of continued support after the divorce (i.e. Alimony).

    I assume I have waived my rights to any portion of pension benefits by not having it written into the divorce decree?

    Thanks for your help!

    • As for social security, I recommend that if people need the money at age 62, then they get the greatest benefits they are entitled to at that age and not wait until full retirement age to collect. If you need the money, then take it when you need it rather than struggling more than you have to.

      As for your pension benefits, you would have to check with an attorney. If it is clear that you knew about the pension and didn’t take it, then you probably waived your right to receive it. But if you have just found out that it existed, then perhaps there’s a chance you could open the case back up to claim your share.

  125. I benefit from looking at your web sites. With thanks!

  126. I hope you can help answer a couple of questions.
    I’m 61 and have been divorced for over 10 years after a 18 year marriage. I have been disabled for over 20 years. I have not worked for longer. My ex is two years younger. I am not eligible for disability under my SS# but would I be able to collect under my ex’s? i believe he is still working and probably won’t retire until he has to.
    I’m guessing that I will be able to start collecting next year when I’m 62. Or is this not correct?
    It was very abusive and I got nothing in the divorce while he walked away with all the assets and my family home. It’s been very difficult and I am hoping that I’m entitled to something after what I’ve been through.
    Thanks for any help.

  127. jeannette hassing says:

    My husband filed for divorce. He died 4-22-12. Our divorce was to be final 5-23-12. Am I divorced or a widow? I’m on sdi right now for the past 7 months. Am I entitled to any of his social security benefits? I am 54 years old.

    • It sounds like you are a widow, since he died before the divorce became final. Check with your attorney to be sure. Either way, you will be entitled to social security benefits when you become of retirement age, it’s just a question of whether those are divorced spouse benefits or the greater widow’s benefits.

      • Ginita,
        Was married for 25 yrs. Been divorced for the last 13 yrs. Not sure if I heard my local Social Security Office correctly,on the phone.
        I am on disability. Won’t turn 61 until Nov.of 2013.
        She asked me to come in next week and will discuss what I am entitled to..as she said I was entitled to collect on my ex’s SS. He is 62 yrs. old and still working.
        I do recall seeing on the back of my S. Security updated reports every other year. If disabled and been married over 10 yrs, and not remarried, and if over 55 yrs. old..you can collect? Am I hearing this SS representative, and reading that updated manual we used to get correctly?
        Greatly Appreciated.

  128. Hello I was married over 10yrs and remarried for less then a yr to someone else, then remarried my first husband.He is 80yrs old I am disabled and 64 yrs old.if my first husband dies would I be entiled to widows penion and ssa even though Ihad married someone else for less then a yr?
    Thank you inadvance for your help.I live in califoria stste

  129. Ginny campbell says:

    My mother was married to my father for 16 years..He remarried years later and then passed away in 2009 at the age of 71..My mother is 74 and has only collected on her own social security benefits all these years..Can she still collect from his and if so, can she receive back payment for the years that she did not realize she could collect from him??

    • Your mother should contact the Social SEcurity administration as soon as possible to see if her widow’s benefits would be greater than what she is receiving now. If it is, she may be able to get six months of back payments.

  130. Hi… I will be turning 61 at the end of this year. My ex is 62 and still working. I am on disability and collecting from SSD. I believe his is much higher than what I am getting from SSD. Yes, was married for 25 yrs..been divorced for last 12 yrs.
    Can I still collect as of today being disabled. If you look on the back of our statements we used to get every other year. It does say if disabled and 55 or over and been married over 10yrs. you can collect.
    And I getting this right?
    Thank you,

    • You can collect disability payments on your own history, as you are doing now. When you turn 62, you can switch over to reduced divorced spouse benefits (half of what his is eligible to receive x 71.5%), if that is greater than what you are getting

  131. Maureen says:

    Thank you.
    I had called my local SS office asking the question…now wondering why they asked me to come in..at my local S. Security Office this week. Would have thought she would have checked my DOB as I am not 62 until 2014. My ex. is 62 and still working. Again I am on SSD and do collect monthly.
    Are you say…I would get half of the ex…as example. His is $1000/per mo. I get $500 per mo. then times 71.5% and that equals to…the amt. Then what happens to my earnings or when can I change to use my own earnings.
    Thank you very much.

  132. Mariana B says:

    My sister divorced her first husband after 9 years then remarried, she divorced her 2nd husband after 4 years of marriage, Her first husband passed away 2 years ago, She is now 64 and is collecting her SS benefits and her first husbands SS. I’m confused I thought that if a person remarried they were not entitled to their first husbands SS benefits. Could/would you clarify please.

    • A woman who is remarried isn’t entitled to widow’s benefits on her former husband’s earnings history unless the remarriage happened after age 60. But your sister isn’t married, she’s divorced, so she is entitled for widow’s bneefits if her first marriage lasted for at least 10 years. I’m surprised that your sister is getting widow’s benefits on a marriage that lasted just nine years.

  133. When I got married, my husband wrote on the marriage contract application form that his last marriage ended 2008 but the final divorce was actually granted year feb 2011. Do we have to make an amendment to correct the record?

  134. I was married with my husband for 8 years and our marriage is falling apart. I’m thinking about divorce but scared that i’m not eligible for SS and insurance that I’m receiving from him now. Any suggestions?

    I’m 65 years old

  135. Carrieaby says:

    I am collecting money from my husband early retirement funds I was wondering if he files for divorce and gets remarried do I loose my benefits? We have been married almost 18 years. I still have two girls at home that are not 18 yrs of age. I need an answer for this question.

  136. I was married to my no ex husband for 10 years 1996 till 2006 BUT i married in Oct 1996 and Divorsed in Feb 2006. I wish someone would have told me avout this SS thing I could have held out the few more months. Can you tell me if I would still be able to collect due to it being actaully 10 years (just not to the month)?

  137. I was married for 31 years and divorced at age 52. I remarried prior to age 60, married for 10 years to another man who was disabled prior to age 50 and on SSD; and now we are currently divorced. He was married to his former wife for 14 yrs and she had a better income than he did on disability.
    Two questions:
    1. I am 64 and still working – Can I collect on my living X-husband (married 31 years) who is retired but still living? (50% of his while he is alive and 100% if he dies?) – he is 17 years older than me.
    2. Can my X-husband who is 64 collect on his previous wife of 14 years and get full benefit since he was disabled prior to age 50 and still is on SSD?

    • Yes, you can collect on your first ex-husband’s history, since you are both of retirement age. But your benefits will be reduced by 50% of your earned income over $15,120 until you are 66, so you might need to wait until then to collect.

      Social security is equal opportunity, so your second ex-husband can collect based on his first ex-spouse’s earnings history, as long as they are both of retirement age (62 or older).

      • Thank you Ginita….it is comforting to know that someone has the right answers. My 2nd X and I are still friends and when I heard that he was denied for applying for his first X wife’s SS (who died at 62yrs old) I researched and didn’t think that there would have been a problem with his application. Apparently, the SS employee he spoke to did not file it correctly. He will try again. 🙂

  138. Igot married recently my husband get ssi and I get ssd.We just separated before I was going to reported to the social security.Does it still we affected his ssi when I reported about it.

  139. Hi Ginita, I am on SSD and 60 yrs. old. Collecting alimony in Massachusetts, I do work 8-12 hrs. per week. Now my ex husband of 25 yrs. (we divorced in 2001). He was in a accident that claimed both of his arms.(being amputated to upper arms) among with other ailments. God Bless this man of our grown children and grandchildren.
    I do depend on this alimony for my mtg/bills/etc. Now that he will be on either SSD or collecting SS as he is 62 yrs.old and was still working, not collecting SS as of yet.
    Now, what do I do? Would I be able to collect on his Social security..or how does this situation usually work out? Thank you…been a horrible week. I just want to be ahead with your suggestions, so the kids do not have to worry.
    Thank you so much.

  140. I am hoping you can help me with my question above..I am beside myself and feel like I am in a crossfire between my ex horrible accident and how to pay for my living expenses. Thank you.

  141. i am 71 husband is 58, and i don,t draw ss are anything,and my health is not good,lost our insurance
    and his job pays fair most of time. question( if i divorce my husband of 14years would i be able to get
    social security,i have a ex husband that passed away ,we was married for 23 years.,i really need some answers please help

    • Once you are of retirement age (62 or older) you can draw social security based on your husband’s earnings record. If you and he divorce, when you are of retirement age you’ll be able to draw based on either husband #1 (widow benefits) or husband #2 (divorced spouse benefits).

  142. I was wondering….I was married for 20 yrs,had 2 sons….never remarried. I’m 60 and on SSD. My ex just married for the 3rd time…for 6 months…then passed. What if anything is she eligible for or I am eligible for anything?

    • When you reach retirement age of 62 or older, you can collect widow benefits. Without knowing all the facts and circumstances, it is impossible to know what his widow is eligible for. She should contact the Social Security Administration to find out.

  143. Oh, so my SSD payment won’t change till I’m 62?…. I don’t believe he had a will….I was reading about chapter 6? If he had seperate property her and our children would split everything that was his? Is that how it reads? or does she automaticly get his house…I don’t think he put her name on it?….I’m thinking she prob. does……just wondering:) Thanks, again…..One more question…he had a penison,when we were married *he didn’t want me to get any of it* so, I agreed at the divorce….so, that’s done, right..no way i’d recieve it?!…..and I think he didn’t want me to get any penison he gets….guess that’s done?! I was rather dumb in our marraige *trusting*…..He was 64…..I’m pretty sure, he’s ex has contacted SSA…Ok, thanks!

  144. Crystal L. Rucker says:

    How would the ex-spouse of the deceased qualify for their Death Benefits If they were not even married a full 12 months, havent been their spouse for nearly 16 years, but do have a 15 year old minor child together? Ps. Asking because My younger brother (15 yrs old) as well as myself (25 yrs old disabled before the age of 22) qualify for our Fathers Death Benefits. We have the same Father but a different Mother, but my brother said his Mother also qualified for Death Benefits on our Fathers record and she has already received a large check that was the same amount as my brothers check? How is that?

    • The death benefit of $255 goes to the surviving spouse, if any. Survivor benefits go to minor children as well as adult children who are disabled. Surviving divorced spouse benefits go to a surviving divorced spouse if the marriage lasted 10 years. A former spouse does not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule if he or she is caring for his/her child who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled and also entitled to benefits. That’s why your brother’s mother qualifies until he is 16.

      • Crystal L. Rucker says:

        My Father was not married when he died and hadnt been for almost 16 years. She actually told us that she would qualify for our fathers death benefits even after my brother turned 16. And that it was because when my dad and her were married (for their short marriage less than 12 months) my dad signed a form that would allow her to receive benefits on his recordeven after my brother turned 16. And would continue to receive these benefits until my brother died. Is there any such form? Hate to say it but he didnt like her that much! He was married to my mother for almost 5 years and she doesnt qualift for anything

        • Crystal L. Rucker says:

          Sorry that posted as a reply and a new comment & it wont let me take it down :/

        • If your mom is your caregiver, then she should qualify for benefits. A former spouse does not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule if he or she is caring for his/her child who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled and also entitled to benefits.

          • Crystal L. Rucker says:

            No my mother is not my caregiver. As for my younger brothers mother saying my dad had signed a form while they were married that would entitle her to benefits on our fathers record long after my brother turned 16 or 18 and receive these benefits till my brothers death. Is there a such form that could have been signed by our father that would allow these benefits to continue till their biological childs death? Social Security completely blew me off when i asked who would i notify if some of the information on her part sounded off, they never even.let me finish stating my question/concern. From what ive read it seems as if she does in fact qualify her benefits are not extra money but actually is subtracted from our monthly family limit. So instead of whatever the family monthly limit being divided by 2 for my brother and i ..its now divided by 3

          • Crystal L. Rucker says:

            Would Alabama (my state of residence) have any qualifying ex-spouse rule for long term benefits (in a marriage of less than 12 months with a minor child reaching the age of 18) that would allow the ex-spouse to continue receiving benefits until the death of their biological child? I understand she would qualify for benefits as long as the child was disabled and she is his caregiver but hes not disabled as of now so how could she say she would get benefits until the childs death? Would Alabama have a different law than what another state would have or are they ALL the same? (Sorry for all the questions, everything so far on what the younger brothers mother is saying just doesnt sound right)(i get that she qualifies for benefits until he turns 16 unless he is disabled which then she would qualify for continued benefits as long as she was his caregiver and he was classified as disabled before the age of 22..Would anything else qualify her fir long term benefits if she is not in one if the above categories?

  145. Crystal L. Rucker says:

    My Father was not married when he died and hadnt been for almost 16 years. She actually told us that she would qualify for our fathers death benefits even after my brother turned 16. And that it was because when my dad and her were married (for their short marriage less than 12 months) my dad signed a form that would allow her to receive benefits on his recordeven after my brother turned 16. And would continue to receive these benefits until my brother died. Is there any such form? Hate to say it but he didnt like her that much! He was married to my mother for almost 5 years and she doesnt qualift for anything

  146. Karen Kosovich says:

    I was married to my first husband for 12 years, marriage ended in divorce. Married to my second husband for 14 years, ended in his death. Married to my third husband for 2 years, ended in divorce. I have been single for 9 years. Question is, when I am at retirement age, can I collect from which ever husband my benefits would be higher? Or, is the start date to be able to receive benefits based on my ex-husband or deceased husbands age?

    • When you reach retirement age, you can collect your own benefits, or divorced spouse benefits based on husband #1 as long as he is of retirement age as well, or widow benefits based on husband #2. I’m guessing the widow benefits will be the highest, but Social Security will figure it out for you.

  147. Hi Ginita,
    I have a bit of a unique question that I couldn’t really find an answer to regarding my divorced mother-in-law.
    She is as of a couple of years ago a Green Card holder through my wife’s sponsorship.
    My mother-in-law was married about 30 years ago, but divorced about 15 years later in a foreign country (never lived in the US before).
    Her ex moved to the US, got a Green Card, and has been working for over 10 years.
    Does she qualify for derivative benefits even though she has never worked in the US before and only came here fairly recently? If so, what kind of proof would be required that the marriage had lasted at least 10 years? Would a marriage and divorce certificate in a foreign language be acceptable? Or does her situation even qualify? She is still a few years away from retirement age, but would like to know if we need to plan something now to address this future need.

    • I think she would qualify. A legitimate foreign marriage is accepted as a marriage in the US, and so a foreign divorce that ends that marriage would be accepted as well. Her ex is covered under social security and is here working legally, so his beneficiaries should also be covered.

  148. I was married for 21 years. During that marriage I was diagnosed with MS and when we divorced I started to receive SSD and also part of his pension as I cannot work. I know that I only receive this portion of his pension for a limited time and I have called my lawyer to see if she knows when it ends and she gave me a number to call because nobody was willing to speak to her about it. When I called the number I was told to talk to my lawyer about it. I really need to know how much longer I have this money coming to me but have no idea how to find out. Can you help me with this? Do you know who I can contact?

    • I don’t know — I would think that what you receive from his pension would be determined by your divorce decree, so turn to the appropriate section of that document for guidance. Your attorney may have requested the plan documents as part of the discovery process, so the provisions of the plan that apply to disabled spouses and ex-spouses might will tell you what the plan’s policy is, if your divorce decree is unclear.

  149. I am divorced after having been married for 28 years. In my lifetime I worked for 6 years where I contributed to Social Security, I did not work for 17 years (stay at home Mom) and I have worked for the past 10 years in Education and contribute to the Teacher Retirement System.

    If I retire from my education job (Thereby not having enough credits to draw Social Security myself), I realize any benefits from my ex (he will be eligible for the maximum amount allowed) will be reduced by the GPO. Will the Windfall Elimination Provision affect any benefits I would eligible from my ex’s SS? I have looked on the SSA website and find their information very confusing!

    • They seem to go out of their way to make it confusing, don’t they? The Government Pension Offset provisions say that if you are eligible to collect a spousal or divorced spouse benefit based on the social security record of your spouse(or ex-spouse), that social security benefit will be reduced by 2/3 of your government pension, such as through the Teachers Retirement System. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects benefits that you are entitled to under your own social security record, and says that if you are getting a government pension as well as social security benefits, the social security benefits are reduced. So teh GPO offsets benefits you get based on your spouse’s record, and the WEP offsets benefits you get based on your own record, not your spouse’s record.

  150. What if you were married when your husband passed but you never lived together, would you be able to claim the social security benefits.

  151. I was married to my ex-husband for 20 years. We divorced 4 years ago. I live with my boyfriend but we are not legally married. I live in Texas, where common law marriage is recognized. Will I still be eligible to collect SS based on my ex’s income even though I am not legally re-married?
    Also, if I wait unti I am over 60 to legally re-marry am I eligible for my ex’s income benefit?

    • You can collect divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-husband’s social security history as long as you are not remarried at the time you become eligible for benefits, unless your remarriage took place after age 60. So you will be eligible if you don’t remarry, or if you do remarry, if you wait until age 60.

  152. I don’t know if this example has been address but I would like to know if I can collect divorced spouse benefits and survivor benefits from 2 different husband. I was married 84′ and divorced in 96′..He is still living and collecting. Our children are grown. I remarried in 97′ but he passed away in 2007. I will be 60 soon. I want to know if I can collect survivorship on my second husband at age 60?, then when I turn 62 I can collect on husband #1?then when I turn 66 I can collect on my full benefit.? I earned more the either of them

    • If you earned more than either of them, then your benefits will probably be higher than theirs. If you begin collecting before you are 66, you will receive reduced benefits, and you will be required to take the benefit that is highest. If you wait to begin collecting until you are 66, your benefits will not be reduced and you can choose which benefit to take, so at that point you could take benefits based on your deceased spouse, letting your grow at 8% a year, and then switch to your own enhanced benefits once you are 70.

  153. I was married for 20 years and I’m now divorced. I know that 50% of my ex-husband’s Social Security benefit is more than my own benefit would be (based on my employment record). What is my best strategy for maximizing my Social Security benefits throughout my life if I want to begin receiving benefits when I turn 62? My ex-husband is one year older than me.

    • If you begin collecting before full retirement age of 66, then you don’t have options. You will receive reduced benefits based on your ex-husband’s earnings record, since that is higher than yours.

      If you waited until you were 66, then you could collect benefits based on his earnings record and let yours grow until age 70, then switch to those benefits. But if you need the benefits at age 62, then by all means take them then.

  154. hi I just have a question regarding on my parents situation. They’re married outside of USA (different country).they’ve been together more than 10 years.when my dad got here in USA, my dad filed divorced here in united states .Then my dad got married again in california, Now my question is can my mom get something to my dads sss or any benefits even though she’s in other country?


  155. you can also collect on an ex spouses benefits under age 60 NO MATTER LENGTH OF YOUR MARRIAGE..if you are caring for a minor child you had with them.
    but this is wrong…the amount of people claiming on a bennifit DOES change each amount individually ex…my hubs died married to me…ex and him only married 3 years..1 child by me…1 by her…4 ppl on his benefit…means 3000$ split 4 ways until she remarries or her child turns 16.

    • A widowed spouse or divorced spouse can receive survivors benefits at any age if she takes care of achild who is under age 16 or disabled and receives benefits on the worker’s record. The article discussed surviving spouses and ex-spouses. You are correct that when children are also getting benefits, there’s a limit to the amount that family members can receive, which generally is about 150 to 180 percent of the basic benefit rate.

  156. How do i find out if my ex is on my social security?

  157. I am 61 years old. My ex spouse passed away. I am going to start receiving widow benefits next year. I was working full time, but am going to part time. Will going to part time, and making less money from now until my full retirement age of 66 make my benefits on my own record less? I will be making half of what I was, and not going over the limit of earnings. I just want to make sure this will not make my amount less at full retirement age by doing less.

    • If your widow’s benefits are greater than your own earnings record benefits, then it is irrelevant what your own benefits are since you will receive those widow benefits for the rest of your life.
      But to answer your question, yes, working part time instead of full time is likely to reduce your own benefits on your own record a little bit. But that won’t reduce the amoutn you receive at age 66 any less since your widow’s benefits are higher.

  158. I am a stay at home mom who recently learned that my husband may have molested my daughter. I am going to move out. Can a wife continue receiving benefits for caring for a small child if she separate from husband. My husband receives our daughter benefits into his checking. Can the check be sent to me without a divorce or legal separation.

  159. Sorry for not giving you the info needed to answer the question. My husband receives ss retirement so I receives benefits because we have 18 mth old child. My husband receives her benefits in his account. We have separate accounts. He do not give me any money to buy the things she needs. He buy only pampers and wipes. Would it be problem for me to have ss to transfer her check to me? Thanks for answering my question and for this website much needed.

  160. When I divorced I was receiving veterans benefits for my son who was seven, I had remarried so I guess I was not entiled to veterans benefits, however I never received social security benenfits for my son.. was I eligible to receive the survivors benefits for my son as well as myself, I was married to him for 14yrs. I was twenty nine at the time.?

  161. My mother was married over 10 years to a man whom she later divorced. At 65 she began taking Divorced Spouse benefits. At 68 she remarried to a man who was only 54. Does she no longer get the Divorced Spouse benefits?

    Really need your help on this!


    • Check with social security to be sure, but I think that you are correct. If she were collecting divorced spouse widow benefits , they would continue since she remarried after 60, but I don’t think that divorced spouse benefits continue.

      • Well, that’s the problem. SS said she would continue to get the Divorced Spouse Benefits which she received for 4 years – Now SS is coming back saying she has to pay it back within 30 days!

        She doesn’t know what to do.

  162. Hi! I’m asking this question for my mother. She just turned 63 (Dec.10th) years old and receiving SSI benefits under her husband’s income since last year, at 62. He is also receiving his benefits. They have been married 17 years.

    She lives in FL. She is now going through a difficult time and considering divorce. Now, her husband said that if she divorce him, her SSI benefit will be reduced. Is this true? She has no other income. Just this month she opened a bank account in her own name to have SSI benefit deposited. What are her rights? Thank you in advance for your help.

  163. my aunt was married for more than 10 years,she is from Mexico. my uncle work in USA and they got divorced.He died 20 years ago,she never remarried, can she get some benefits of the social security? she doesn’t have social security number.her age is more than 70 years old.

  164. Hi, Ginita I will really appreciate your answer , I am 62 year old I was married for 15 years and than divorced, and my ex wife she passed away in 2003 at age 66 having social security disability and remarried in 2004 in age 54, going on 9yr’s now. My ex has since passed away. i am dealing with health problems. Now this marriage is going to end up at divorce soon , so my question to you is can i get my ex- wife’s social. Thank You so much


  165. varoujan agemian says:

    I was born on 9/4/1950 and married over 10 years. My husband is in his 80’s, and is receiving benefits. we are currently in divorce proceedings. Am I eligible for derivative benefits? am I eligible for my own benefits from social security? what advantages or disadvantages do I have if I apply for my own benefits at this age? thank you

    • You will be eligible for derivative benefits once your divorce has been final for 2 years — meanwhile you can collect your own benefits. If you are already receiving spousal benefits If you apply for benefits before age 67, you will receive reduced benefits (about 72% of what you’d receive if you waited).

  166. Hello Mrs Wall
    will you be so kind to let me know once you have been divorce after 4 years of marriage .. you will not collect any disability from your spouse .. after he dies or if i get remarried again . pls if you can answer this question i will appreciate..
    May Heart .

    • Generally, disability income belongs to the disabled person, but it does count as income available for support. Once he dies, the disability income would end, of course, as would support. Support also would end upon your remarriage, unless your divorce decree says otherwise.

  167. Hi, Here is my situation: My husband is 71 years old and incarcerated. He had been receiving his social security benefit prior to incarceration and it was suspended (he owes one month back because they paid the month he was initially incarcerated). I am 60 years old and have a yearly income of 98,000 (sounds good, but he was a pathological gambler and there is mind boggling debt to pay). We have a developmentally disabled 32 year old daughter who receives SSI and SSD and lives with me. Here are a few of my questions:
    I know I am not eligible to collect on his social security now, but when I turn 62 what would be my best course of action (if I even have any options)?
    I’m not sure if I understand how my daughter’s benefits work….does the fact that she gets SSD mean that she is currently getting paid on his benefits?
    Would divorcing him at this point in time make a difference ?

    • When you turn 62 if you are not working you can collect either your benefits or spousal benefits, whichever is higher. If you really need the money, you should begin collecting then even though you’ll be receiving reduced benefits. Contact Social Security Administration to ask your question about what benefits your daughter is getting. Divorcing him will probably not make a difference at this point, since your inability to collect benefits right now is based on your age and not your marital status, and changing your marital status won’t affect that.

  168. My husband and I have 1 1/2 year old daughter. My daughter and I receive ss retirement benefits because my husband is receiving his ss retirement. He receives her check in his checking account. I moved out of the house Friday that my husband and I were living because he abused my daughter but he denies it. What is the process to have her check send to me. Thanks for your help.

    • Since the payments are linked to his social security retirement, I’m guessing that the Social Security Administration won’t make that change without his approval. Consult an attorney in your area to see what legal steps you can take to get the court to award that payment to you.

  169. My husband and I were married for 30 YRS. Then divorced, I am72 yrs. Old.he is drawing s.s. benefits and still working I think not sure,I am drawing dual s.s. his and mine, I draw 812.00 a mo. Can I draw part of his s.s. now, since he is probably drawing his s.s. Sincerely Alice Lorine Duggins.

    • A divorced spouse doesn’t have to wait until he begins collecting benefits in order to collect on her former spouse’s history, so the fact that he is drawing benefits isn’t relevant. If you are receiving social security benefits, it is likely that you are receiving a combination of your own and your divorced spouse benefits, to equal the highest amount to which you are eligible. Call the Social Security Adminstration and ask them to confirm this for you.

  170. Hi, I am 55, this month, and was married for just about 14 years. My ex is retirement age and collecting his retirement benefits.
    I am disabled, as of 2009.
    How old must I be to collect benefits from his account, which I know will be a larger monthly amount than my SSDI?
    I have heard different answers from Soc Sec and people around me – anywhere from 50 to 57 to 62 – and just need to know the correct age.

    Thank you!!

    • At age 62 you can collect divorced spouse benefits, which are equal to 50% of what he is eligible to receive. You will receive only 71.5% of the amount you could receive if you waited until 66 to collect.

  171. Question: I am 63 years old, unemployed and was married for 25 years. My ex-husband will be 69 this month, . Can I collect half of his SS now until I am 72 and then collect mine at full rate at age 72?

    • Yes, you can collect divorced spouse benefits now if the benefits that you will receive as a divorced spouse are greater than those you’d receive on your own history. If you wait until full retirement age 66, you can then begin collecting divorced spouse benefits, and then switch over to your own benefits at age 70 (enhanced by 8% a year for each year between age full retirement age 66 and 70).

  172. My question is: I was married 10 yrs to husband #1, and I remarried 2 yrs later. He was still active duty in service during our divorced. I already knew I was entitled to received his military retirement benefits once he retires. But he wanted me to waived it or else he will get out the service before 20 yrs of service. He end up retired 20 yrs from the military. Am I still entitled to received his military retirement even though I remarried?

    • Look at your divorce agreement to see what it says about your interest in the military retirement benefits. If you waived your right in your divorce agreement, then then is probably nothing you can do at this point.

      If it was not covered there, then you’ll need to see an attorney about opening up the case again so you can get your share of the retirement.

  173. Hopefully you can help me with this. I am 53 years old and working my soon to be ex husband will be 60. Marriage to me is his second and my first. We got married in 2000 and I left home at 2009. He says he is not going to work, he plan to wait until 62 and get ss benefits. He did not want to get ss benefits from his first wife but he says he will be able to draw benefits from me. Is that true?? We have never filed anything as a married couple, in fact I always file single on everything. Can you help me with this question??

    • Since you have been married for more than 10 years, he will be able to collect divorced spouse benefits on your social security record once you are both 62, and vice versa. Those benefits are the equivalent of 50% of what the ex is entitled to receive on his/her record, and will be paid only if they exceed what each of you could get on your own records. Since you are 7 years younger than he is, he will have to wait until age 69 to begin collecting divorced spouse benefits on your record, because you must be 62 for him to do so. You will be able to collect based on his record as soon as you turn 62, assuming that you are no longer working and your own benefits do not exceed the divorced spouse benefits.

  174. My daughter’s husband passed way in January and they were living apart (no legal separation)……can she receive Social Security death benefits for herself? She will be receiving them for their 5 and 7 year old children. Thanks you

  175. Question: I’m collecting divorced spouse benefits. My ex-husband remarried a while back and has two children. When his oldest turned 18, my benefits increased by about $200. But then a few months later they decreased again. I don’t understand why my benefits are even affected by his children. I haven’t read anything about children reducing divorced spouse benefits, and the social security office is not helpful at all. If I’m right and my benefits should not be decreased, who can I appeal to?

    • When your benefits increased, you should have received a notice telling you why. And you should have received another notice when they decreased. Ask the SSA to send you written notice of those changes in your benefits. I know of no reason benefits should change based on his children, since your benefits are computed based on his earnings record, which is not affected by his children.

  176. H. Berkley says:

    HELP?? I am going to be divorced in MA in about a month. I have been married 22 years. I am 54, husband is 58. We are presently in settlement phase of divorce. My soc. sec. at 67 will be $1500. My husbands is $2650. Am I correct to assume that I can keep my soc. security OR give up mine and instead claim half of his? whch. would be approx. $1350. OR am I allowed to keep mine and also collect a portion of his since it is more than mine?? This is all very confusing to me. ALSO, if I remarry, do I lose any claims to his social security. Secondly, can he also claim my social security. Does anyone out there have any answers. My divorce lawyer didn’t even know!! grrr….h

    • You’ll get the greater of yours or 50% of his, not both. If he dies, you’ll get the greater of yours or 100% of his, not both.
      If you remarry, you’ll get the greater of yours or 50% of your new spouse’s, not both. If he dies, you’ll get the greater of yours or 100% of your new spouse’s.
      If your new marriage ends in divorce, you can once again get the greater of yours or 50% of your first ex-spouse’s benefits, not both.
      If you are 60 or older when you remarry, you can get 100% of your first spouse’s benefits if he dies and that amount is greater than your own benefit and 50% of your new spouse’s benefit.

  177. I was married over 10 years. My ex-husband took early SS and gets 2100 per month. I will be 62 soon. If I take my SS it is only 1130 at age 62, 1430 at age 66 and 2000 at age 70. I do not work, but get alimony of 1200 per month. I get a small pension from my work of 500 per month. I don’t understand how this works or what my options are. Could you please help me. 62 is just around the corner.
    Do I take mine, delay his, I just don’t understand this.

    • If you take benefits at age 62, you’ll get only 72% of what you’d get at age 66. But the best time to take benefits is when you need them, so I’d say go for it.Social security will pay you the highest benefit you are entitled to, either based on your history (100%) or on his history (50%).

  178. So If my husband took Social Security at 672 and got 2100, and he dies, do I get what he got at his 62, or do I get what he would have taken if he would have waited until 70? Does that matter, if I never drew from it?
    If I wait until I am 66, and take my 1430, could I take what he would have made (he’s alive) had he waited until 66, or do I only get a portion of what he currently gets? The greater of the two doesn’t mean what he should have had had he waited? Or had I waited? I am stumped.

    • Survivor benefits are based on his earnings record, and are limited to what he would receive if he were still alive. So if he started receiving retirement benefits before his full retirement age of 66, you’ll also get reduced benefits. If he waits until age 70 to begin getting benefits, you’ll get enhanced benefits upon his death. If you start receiving survivor benefits before your full retirement age 66, these survivor benefits will be reduced accordingly.

      At age 66 you’ll start collecting 1430 based on your earning history, and upon his death you’ll step into his shoes. Your other choice is to take spousal benefits at age 66 of $1050 (50% of what he’s getting). Then, when you reach age 70 you can get enhanced benefits of $1,888, which is 132% of the 1430 you would have gotten at age 66. But when he dies you’ll start getting $2100, so taking reduced benefits for those 4 years to get enhanced benefits may not be worth it, depending on what his life expectancy is.

  179. If my ex’s benefits were originally 2100, I am sure they go up every year, are my calculations for getting his SS based on the current rate, or what he initially got? And do those benefits, if I choose to take his go up every year? Can I take his benefits until I am 70, and then switch over and take mine, which would be 2000 by age 70?

    • All social security benefits are indexed for cost of living rises, so you can use the current figures to make your calculations, since all the alternatives will also increase the same percentage.

      And yes, you can take divorced spouse benefits at age 66, letting yours increase by 8% a year, then take yours at age 70 and receive 132% of what you would have gotten if you had collected your own benefits at age 66.

  180. Hello Ginita, My husband and I have been legally married since 1975. He left me 6 yrs ago and now is in failing health. He is currently 65 and will be 66 this Dec. He has not filed for SSI. For 1 yr. now , he has been living with another woman who is 66. He has just filed for divorce and is planning to remarry before he passes away. If he passes away once he’s re married , is she entitled to half of his SSI? What percentage would go to her over me . So unfair, she is marrying him for his money. Would have been our 39th yr.anniversary. My lawyer is going to try having the divorce delayed one yr. before it can be finalized Does that seem possible to you for her to do?
    If he passes before remarries will I be entitled to my full share as his current wife? No separation papers were ever filed. Thank You

    • SSI benefits are paid to the disabled person and his children, not to spouses. Once he dies, the SSI would end.

      Since you were married to him for more than 10 years, you will be entitled to survivor social security benefits after he dies, if you are divorced. If you are still married at the time of his death, you will receive widow benefits. The amount is the same, 100% of what he was eligible to receive, so it doesn’t matter whether you are divorced or still married at the time of his death.

      For her to collect widow’s benefits they must have been married for at least nine months before his death. If she is, her benefits will be 100% of what he was eligible to receive. It won’t matter to you financially whether she receives benefits, since it won’t reduce what you receive. In other words, she can get 100% benefits and you can get the same.

  181. If I am receiving part of my ex-husband’s pension from his job can I lose that if I move my boyfriend into my home?

  182. My Ex husband passed away about 4 months ago. He was 41 years old. He had been trying to get disability for three years for his heart condition. We received a letter a few weeks after he passed away that he finally had a court date. I called the lawyer and he said I could go to court in his place because I was his only spouse. Well we won the hearing. I have a 14 year old daughter that’s his and he has another daughter that is 8. Im not really sure what kind of back pay we will get. Will the kids be the only ones getting back pay or will I receive his also? The lawyer gets 25% and I really hope that’s not going to be taking out of the kids. I did get a payment in my bank account yesterday for 11,000. But I have not received a letter stating what or how much we be receiving. Does that fall under SSI or SSDI? Any help would gratefully be appreciated.

  183. Andrea patterson says:

    i am 60 years old and was married for 10 years and divorced in 1998 and have not remarried. My ex husband died in 2009 (he never remarried). I am not working now. What benefits am i entitled to?

    • You can collect reduced survivor benefits at age 60, or wait until you are 66 to collect full benefits. If you collect reduced benefits, they will be reduced further if your earnings from employment exceeds $15,000 a year, so if that’s the case, you’d be better off waiting until full retirement age to collect.

  184. M. Burgess says:

    Ok so my husband and i got married 11 years ago and he left during the first year of our marriage. We have been legally married the entire 11 years and are not legally separated but we have live in different states since he left.. Now I am getting a divorce am i eligible to receive anything from him SSI/ alimony ect? I live in tx still and this is where we got married.

    • We can’t give legal advice about Texas law regarding alimony. If he is receiving SSI payments, those would be his income, but you might also be eligible for SSI depending on your income situation. When you are both of retirement age, you will be able to collect social security based on either your earnings record or on his, depending on which will give the greatest benefit. Social Security Administration can make the computations to see at that time.

  185. I have lots of question if you can answer I was born in 1951 and married a lady she was born in 1937 , we were married for 15 years and than went through divorce but she was still living with me until her death, she passed away in December 2003. After her death I re married with another at age 54 in December 2004 . I had 2 strokes in 2006 and I bought a business at the same time and I was thinking she will run that business and didn’t apply for disability while my doctor told me if I want to live take care myself first.. I was paying good social security that time but after this business I went into a hole and keep struggling with health and business. Finally because of health issue business didn’t make any money and I went through bankruptcy in 2012 by the way I bought business In 2007 I lost my business my house went though foreclosure , than I went to social security office and applied for disability but I was told that I cannot get disability because I don’t have enough credit ….. it was just my one mistake that I didn’t apply for disability in time wasn’t aware of social security laws and getting punishment for that.. Now my spouse she wants divorce because I am disabled now and no work..

    Now I want to know my ex- deceased wife she was getting SSDI in 2003 when she passed away and she was also turned 66 year old in same year but she didn’t collect her benefits . My question is there any possibility I can get my ex- deceased spousal benefits and if yes than what I should apply SSDI or her benefits because I am 63 years old now. please give me detailed answer what I should do .. thanks alot

    • You can’t get disabiity payments on your ex-spouse’s history — disability is for the person disabled and their dependents, and of course would end at death. But you can apply for reduced social security benefits, since you are over the age of 62.

      • Thanks for your answer but your answer seems to me that I cannot get ex spouse survivor benefits on her behalf and I will apply for her benefits at the age 62 it will be reduced too or I can get 100% of her.

  186. I was divorced after 16 years of marriage and have been collecting SSD since age 62 1/2. I am 64.
    My spouses income was always slightly higher than my own and he is still alive, age 66.

    SSD was approved for 3 years and SS rep. was not sure if I would go right into my full retirement benefit at 66 without losing disability benefits, enen without successfully appealing for an extension.

    Either way, the more important question he couldn’t answer was: Will I have the option at 66 of choosing to defer my own benefit and collecting 50% of my spouses benefit until age 70 OR will I have to take my own, higher amount because I’ve been collecting SSD?
    (50% of spouse’s benefit would be less than what I’ve been receiving, but might be a good way to increase income after 70.)

    Also, can i collect on spouse’s benefit after 70, if that is higher than mine?

    • You cannot collect disablity benefits and retirement benefits at the same time. To my knowledge, the fact that you have collected disability benefits in the past does not impact your ablity to collect divorced spouse retirement benefits in the future. And yes, you can collect divorced spouse benefits at age 66 and then switch over to your own enhanced benefits at age 70.

  187. My ex husband is on Soc Sec disability and can never return to work. I was married to him more than 10 years and I am older than him. At what age can I collect from his Soc. Sec., or can’t I because he is disabled? Will collecting from him lower his soc sec amount that he receives? He is disabled and don’t really want to have him receive less money due to the cost of his meds and co-pays. Please reply. Thanks

    • You can collect social security benefits on his earnings record once he is age 62. But your own benefits may exceed his, and they will pay you the higher of the two. Whether or not you receive benefits based on his earnings record won’t affect what he receives.

  188. Deb Olevano says:

    I recently heard of a friend who is collecting on her ex husbands SS , while she is still working full time. I am 63, currently working full time. My ex has been retired for 4 years, he is 66.
    He definitely made more money than I do, therefore his personal benefit is higher than mine.
    What are the requirements for me to start collecting on his , while still working full time? what is the drawback of starting to collect on his now.? I really could use some extra cash at this time in my life , so this would be helpful if it is worth it..
    thank you

    • If you begin getting benefits before full retirement age of 66, not only your benefits be reduced because you are collecting early, and your benefits further will be reduced by $1 for each $2 you earn over $15,000 a year. If you do decide to apply now, they will pay you a benefit based on your earnings record or 50% of the benefit based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record, whichever is higher. Your benefits will be forever reduced because you began collecting early.

  189. Mark Wallace says:

    My ex-wife and I were married for 20 years, she remarried and I did not, will I be eligible to receive any of her social security when we retire

    • You can collect social security benefits based on her earnings history once you are both of retirement age, if the divorced spouse benefit of 50% of what she is eligible to receive is greater than your own benefit based on your own earnings history.

  190. MaryEllen Ryan Piesco says:

    I was married to my husband for 12 years then we divorced. During a of the Social Security Office near us I was told that one night turned 60 I would be eligible two sheer and the Social Security fund. I recently called from my previous husband.

    AT the Social Security Office I was told that I had to wait until I was 60 before I could collect my ex-husband’s Social Security. I am now we’re told because I got married before they reach the age of 60 that I am not entitled to his Social Security. Is this true?

    Mary Ellen Ryan Piesco

    • If you are divorced from your former spouse and not remarried (or if remarried, you did so after you turned 60), you can collect social security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings or your own, whichever provides the higher benefit. You must both be of retirement age, which is age 62.

      If you have remarried, you are eligible for spousal benefits based on your current husband’s earnings history, or your own, whichever is higher, once he applies for benefits.

    • MaryEllen Ryan Piesco says:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      I was married to my husband for 12 years, then we divorced. During a visit to the Social Security Office near us, that once I
      turned 60 I would be eligible two sheer and the Social Security fund. I recently called from my previous husband.

      AT the Social Security Office I was told that I had to wait until I was 60 before I could collect my ex-husband’s Social Security. I am now told because I got married before I reach the age of 60 I am not entitled to his Social Security. Is this true?

      Mary Ellen Ryan Piesco

  191. Im married 20 year and im getting divorce. Im not working what do I get from my husband if my divorce is granted?

    • When you both reach retirement age you’ll be able to get social security benefits based on his earnings record or yours, whichever creates the greatest amount. As for property division and suppport in divorce, that depends on the laws of your state.

      • My ex-husband just died. We were married over 20 years before I divorced him. Well, he was receiving VA benefits, as he was disabled. Can I put in a beneficiary claim?

  192. A friend of mine was married for 5 years then got legally seperated but never divorced until 5 years later. Is she entitled to collect off of her x husbands social security even tho she was seperated for 5 out of the 10 years

    • She must have been married for 10 years or longer. According to social security rules, they are married until they receive an issuance of a final decree of annulment or divorce. The law is very black-and-white in its definition, and makes no provision for separation, legal or otherwise. Until you divorce, you are still married, they say.

  193. I have been married to my husband for a total of 40 yrs. We divorced in 2006 (after 32 yrs) and remarried in 2007. We are possibly divorcing which looks likely as it didn’t work out. He is on SS disability (which is his Social Security benefits I believe) that he went on at age 56 after being unable to work due to a disability. I am 60 1/2 yrs. old. When I can collect my SS benefits, they will be less than what he receives per month. How will this work after we divorce? Will I get any of his benefits? Also if he were to die, will I get his full Social Security benefits even if we divorce. This is the main reason I’m holding back from getting the divorce but it’s getting unbearable and I really need to move on with my life. I can’t continue to live in misery just to not face being poor and having my kids help to support me.
    Thanks for your help!

    • If you are still married when you are both of retirement age (62 or older) you can collect spousal benefits based on his earnings history if those benefits exceed your own. If you are divorced, you can collect divorced spouse benefits if they exceed your own. If he dies, you will get either widow’s benefits or surviving divorced spouse benefits.

  194. I am concerned. We began our “common law marriage” in 1980 in California. We legally married in 1983 and divorced in 1991. Do we qualify for each other’ s SS benefits? How would I prove our common law marriage existed before a legal marriage-receipts? Would moving out of California to a state that accepts common law upset or change the 10 year continuity rule or does it matter?
    Thank you.

    • California hasn’t had common law marriages since 1896, so you couldn’t have begun a common law marriage in California. But contact Social Security to discuss the facts of your particular situation.

  195. When my father filed for SS at the age of 80 he got his full benefit and my mother got her own at the same time at age 68 after 45 married years. When he died, SS said she would get dad’s amount instead of hers, but less the $300 which would be going to his ex wife to whom he was married for 15 years. They said his ex wife of 50 years ago was entitled to 300 and it didn’t effect dad’s SS check, but now that he has died, it will effect the check they send my mother.. So, my mother is getting 300 less than my dad’s full check, and his ex wife is supposedly still getting only 300, not the full “survivor benefit of 100%?”. Is it only divorced people who get the “survivor’s benefit” once the ex spouse dies? Does this mean my father’s ex wife is getting 100% of his check now, while my mother is still getting a reduced amount? Why wouldn’t my mother also be a survivor? Did SS rip her off?

    • Benefits received by a former spouse do not affect the benefits received by a surviving spouse. Ask for an explanation of the computations in writing, so that you can see exactly how they computed the amount she receives.

  196. I was told that I can collect retirement pension benefits from my ex-husband, I was married to him for 14 yrs. My ex-husband is 62 yrs old now and he just retired receiving pension from his job. I will be 62 yrs. old this summer. I am married to second husband. I would appreciate some insight on this matter.

    Thank you

  197. LaChrista says:

    I was in a relationship for 13 yrs… we filed taxes as married…I even still carry his last name to this day…that was over 20 yrs ago….I have two children by him 27 and 21…the second son was to young to remember meeting his dad left when I became pregnant with second son…..during the fathers lifetime he did not even come close to paying the required amount in child support; h would move from job to job when state began to garnish wages….He did marry or (re)marry……and she receives his SSI benefits….I was wondering is there anyway that my son’s are entitled to some of those benefits for back pay of child support…..

  198. I was married to my ex-husband for over ten years. We both remarried and divorced. He married again, but I have been single now for over 12 years. I will turn 62 in a couple of months. He was still married when he passed away in March.

    I have been on disability since 2008. What benefits, if any, am I eligible for when I turn 62?


    • As a surviving divorced spouse, you are eligible for reduced Social Security benefits beginning at age 60, or fully benefits if you wait until full retirement age to collect. Contact the Social Security Administration to let them know your former spouse died, and they can tell you what the amounts would be at your current age and at full retirement age if you wait.

  199. Barbara says:

    I was married to my ex-husband for 15 years and now not married. I retired on social Security disability in 2003. I found out recently that my ex husband died in December 2012. I understand that since I am 67 years old that I am entitled to 100% of the benefit he was receiving which was more than I presently get. Will I be entitled to retroactive payments of 6 months or since I was considered totally disabled since 2003, am I entitled to 12 months of retroactive payment?

    • I believe you are entitled to 12 months retroactive payments because of your disability, but contact Social Security immediately and discuss with them. Don’t put this off!

      • Barbara says:

        Thank you so much for your quick response Ginita and I hope this does work out for me since I have been struggling to buy medication that I desperately need.

  200. I have been collecting benefits from my ex-husbands disability for a couple years now. We will both be 66 in October. My question is does his disability turn into full retirement at age 66 and will I get more than I’m getting now since I have been getting benefits off his for the last 2 years. I didn’t earn enough credits to get social security myself. I’m getting $611 monthly now and just wanted to know if it will go up or down or stay the same. Thanks.

  201. I Can I still get benefits

  202. I became disabled with M.S. in 2006, at 51 and have received 225$ in disability since then. I have not worked since. My earnings were not much, as a stay at home mom of 5. It happens that my ex-husband of many years passed away unexpectedly this past June. He was nearly 62 and very much, still working. I have since applied and was awarded a reduced (71.5%) disabled widow’s benefit and now soon will receive both. My question is will this amount change, up or down, when I reach FRA. I ask because the S.S. rep which I applied with said emphatically that it would not change, yet in the S.S. pamphlet which arrived with the award, it states very clearly that if one receives both a disability benefit and a reduced widow’s benefits that one should be sure to let them know immediately when you reach FRA so that adjustments can be made to the amount. Why would adjustments be, or not be made? This seems contradictory. Am I missing something? Can you shed light on this?

  203. Gina, I received your advise above, thank you, but sooner than the above answer, by hrs, I received the following in an email from this site: (can you please clarify for me?)

    “Simply put, if a couple are both receiving disability benefits and one of them dies, the survivor would first be eligible for survivor benefits at age 50. If their own benefit amount is higher than the deceased spouse’s benefit, they would continue to receive their own benefit amount only. Conversely, if their deceased spouse’s benefit amount was higher, they would continue to receive their own benefit amount, plus 71.5% of the difference in their amounts. This 28.5% reduction would then be removed when the widow(er) reaches full retirement age, and they would receive their spouse’s full benefit amount (not both benefits) from that point on.”

    I was the one on disability, he was still working until he passed. In my case the deceased spouse’s benefit is higher than mine, as stated above, so I’m getting my own disability benefits-on my earning record, as well as the reduced widow’s benefit-on his earning record. Though I am only 59. From what I am reading above, I gather that when I reach FRA I will no longer receive anything on my own record, but instead will receive my “spouse’s full benefit amount, from that point on”.
    If this last sentence is true, what is it based on in the Soc Sec policies? (I guess I need that in order to point it out to the next S.S. rep I speak to about this.)
    Thank you very much.

  204. Answer #3 above suggests that benefits will be recalculated if (x)spouse dies. I was married 40 years and divorced. My current ss benefits are subjected to the gov pen off and windfall elimination act. Should my x die will my benefits increase?

    • The divorced spouse benefit you are entitled to is equal to 50% of what he is entitled to, offset by 2/3 of your govenment pension. When your former spouse dies, you divorced survivor benefit will increase to 100% of what he was entitled to, resulting in greater benefits to you.

  205. Patricia says:

    I am 58, my husband is 56 – His SS is much higher than mine (even at the 50%). We are going through a divorce that may be final by December 2014. We have a 10 year old child.
    1) What is the best strategy for me to maximize what I collect from SS?
    2) Could our 10-year old start collecting benefits when one of us turn 62, even though we are not retired?

    Thank you!

  206. Linda Rudge says:

    I just called SS about receiving my ex husbands SS. I applied for my SS at age 66 (full retirement age). I am 67 and just found out I may be eligible for my husband’s amount. I was told by SS that my SS amount cannot equal or be > than 1/2 of his so I don’t qualify. I can’t believe I am = to his so I must be greater than 1/2 of his. Is this true? I didn’t see this in anything I read.

    • You can’t get two benefits at once. You can receive your own benefits or an amount equal to 50% of his benefits, whichever is higher. That is what they told you, that your benefits cannot be equal to or greater than 50% of his benefits, and that is correct. Since your benefits are greater than 50% of his benefits, you get your own benefits.

  207. Kimberly Johnson says:

    I have been married for 20years, separated for 10years, neither one of us filed for divorce, still married. What benefits am I entitled to as a separated spouse. I don’t know what the law is in Washington, D.C. I’m still on his health insurance. Do I get his pension.

    • Well, that makes two of us who don’t know the law in Washington DC, so seek the advice of someone in your locale who does. It is important that you take the steps necessary to secure the benefits you are entitled to, so don’t put this off.

  208. I am 27 years old and working. Married to 70years old man for 4 years.We have 4 years old son. Can I get a spousal benefits even if I’m currently working? Do I have to wait until 10years to get a spousal benefits? Can my son and I get benefits if he pass away?thank you so much.

    • Contact Social Security right away — your son is likely entitled to children’s benefits because of his father’s age, and you may be entitled to child-in-care benefits. Each month you delay you lose out, so don’t wait – contact them right away.

  209. mary susan couch says:

    Can a person receive pension benefits from ex, even though you are not married to him at time of death?

    • In general, pension benefits end at the time of the recipient’s death, unless he chose an option that reduced what he received during his life and provided benefits to someone else.

      If he did choose that option, and named you as his beneficiary, then you would receive benefits after his death, as provided for in the option he chose.

      If your divorce decree allocated a portion of his pension to you and you filed the QDRO paperwork to notify the plan administrator of that, then the pension benefits you have been receiving during his life should continue and not be affected by his death.

      But if you weren’t allocated a portion of his pension and he didn’t name you as a beneficiary, then you wouldn’t receive anything after his death.

  210. Linda James says:

    If was married for 20 years, divorced and remarried, what is my current wife entitled to in terms of social security. Does my ex wife get everything???

    • Your wife is entitled to spousal benefits based on your earnings record, if those benefits exceed her own. Your former spouse is entitled to divorced spouse benefits, if they exceed her own. The fact that one or both are collecting based on your earnings history does not reduce what you are entitled to receive.

  211. Linda James says:

    Do I have any say about who is entitled to my social security when I pass on???

    • No, social security is a federal program that is controlled by federal laws. If you don’t like the laws, you can contact your representatives in Congress, but that’s the only control you have (such that it is).

  212. Hi there,

    My dad was married 40 years ago to a woman. They divorced and he remarried over 30 something years ago. His ex wife died but now Social Security is asking him to repay the over payments made to his ex wife. Is he legally responsible and is there a form his current spouse can fill out like an injured spouse form since they are holding his check to pay back the money?

  213. Hi,

    I am 53, divorced and remarried. My first marriage was for 20 years and he is still alive. My second, and current marriage is 5 years old. My new husband is 64 and taking early social security. My ex husband earned far more than my current husband.

    Can I choose which husband’s benefits I receive? Also, if my current husband dies before I reach retirement age, does that change the outcome? (And what if my current husband dies before we are married for 10 years?)

    Thank you.

    • Since you are married, you are eligible for spousal benefits based on his earnings history or your own, whichever is greater. If he dies, you can collect widows benefits (reduced benefits if you are 60-66, full benefits if you are older). It doesn’t matter how long you were married.

  214. If my ex died but I am raising our children (9 & 6) and I was told that my income was too high to be able to collect spouses benefits can I quit my job and go back to school full time and be able to collect on the benefit? As long as I collect what the children are getting the benefit will be close to my wage. I feel that my finishing a degree would be more beneficial then continuing a low paying job that will take me no where. Also with all the other fees I will incur now (health care, daycare ect…I was getting help through the state for low income family, now I do not qualify because of the kids SSI) Please help!

  215. I receive Social Security/SSI. I thought my ex and I were divorced only to find out that we are still legally married. My ex receives Social Security Disability and is 66. I am 55. Does this change my social security/SSI in any way?

  216. Hello and thank you for this website. I am 57 my husband is 58, I have been getting less than $600 a month in SS disability since 2009. I wondered if I can also start receiving some of his SS because of the disability. I barely have enough to cover monthly expenses and he has emotionally left my life. I ferl so hopeless because he controls his money and wants to take mine as well. He makes very good money and works 6 days a week, I am trying to get enough for a separation of some kind. Thsnk you

  217. Thank you for all of the information you are posting Ginita it is very helpful. My question is for my mom. She and my father legally married in 1971 then divorced in 1979. They each never remarried until they common law married each other June 5, 1984 in Texas–when he was diagnosed with cancer. They wanted to be happy and let my sister and I 11 & 12 at the time have a family. He passed away July 12, 1985. My mom would like to retire now she is 62 and I was wondering if she would qualify for his benefits? Thank you.

    • The Social Security Administration does recognize common law marriages that are legal in the state in which they occur, so I believe she should qualify for widows benefits under his earnings record. She is eligible for widows benefits as long as they were married for at least 9 months, which they were.

  218. Adding to previous post–my mom never remarried.

  219. Thank you.

  220. I was told by someone recently that she could have collected on her ex husband’s SS because they had three children. She did not live with him for ten years, and in fact claimed for many years she was divorced. However, upon this mans illness the question came up that he never legally had a divorce from her. She took another man’s last name years ago and am now thinking that she collects on two mens SS….can this happen? Does SSA have ways to prevent this kind of thing?

  221. I’m a bit confused about one of your replies. On July 19 you stated if one gets reduced benefits before full retirement age that the payment would be reduced forever( unless later you receive divorced widow benefits which are not reduced and are 100% ). Truly 100% or did you mean 100 % of his benefit, not just 50% and then 71% -99% of that 100%??? I would appreciate your clarification. It’s so confusing.

  222. Hi just have a simple question.

    My father who is 54 recently got approved for social security disability. Him and my mother divorced 10 years ago after a 17 year marriage. Neither of them have remarried.

    Can my mother, who is 52, get 50% of his social security disability right now? or would she have to wait until she is 62?

  223. Linda Garrison says:

    Hi I have dual nationality British and American and was married to a US military person, after 11 years we divorced and I moved back to England where I brought up my two children aged then 6 and 10, what benefits would I be entitled to at when I reach retirement age and he does. I am 58 at present.

    Thank You

  224. hi, My ex- divorce spouse passed away at age 66 but she didn’t collect her social security benefits she was collection disability at that time , I am 63 years and 8 months old now , if I apply for ex- deceased spouse benefits I will get 50% or It will be 100% while she was turned 66 when she died. thanks

  225. Hi, my mother is 75 and was married to my father for 30 years then got divorced in the early 90s. He remarried but my mother didn’t. Both my father and stepmother passed away recently. My mother had a phone interview with SSA recently and they told her she would only get about one-third of the benefits he was receiving. But according to the SSA website she should get 100%. How is this possible? Thank you for your help!

    • I agree with you. The information she received doesn’t jibe with the facts you stated, so something else must be at work here, such as a government pension being offset against the benefits. She should ask the Social Security people for clarification as to why she won’t receive full surviving divorced spouse benefits.

  226. Hi, I got married about 49 years ago, stayed together about 1 and half years, left my husband never heard from him anymore until I heard he was remarried. I assumed he got a divorce we lived in different states. I got married threes after that. Now my husband of 22 years is retiring now social sercurity is asking did my first husband get a divorce from me. I’am assuming he did he got married again. Do I have to do something?

  227. i married with my wife and she is navy but not even 7yaers yet you think i still can get hes Social Security?
    or have to be 10 years ? sorry my engrish is not good , please help me

    • To collect benefits on a former spouse’s Social Security record, you must be married at least 10 years. So if you were to divorce now, you would not be eligible, though your own earnings history may produce more anyway. You likely are entitled to part of her Navy retirement, though.

  228. sorry if i divorce

  229. if is was married over 10 years but the divorce started at 9 years does that make a diference

  230. Lisa Alexander says:

    I am 51 and my current husband is 64. I am in the 6th year of my second marriage. My first marriage lasted 19 years and ended in divorce. My current husband is taking early social security and retirement. My first husband earned far more than my current husband.

    I have two questions:
    1) If I am still married to my second husband, can I choose which husband’s benefits I receive once I am old enough to receive benefits?

    2) If my second marriage lasts more than 10 years, but my second husband dies before I collect social security, am I able to claim on my first husband or do I have to claim on my second husband because the marriage lasted 10 years?

    Thank you,

  231. Mark Clark says:


    Here’s my situation. It’s kind of complicated. I married my current wife in 2002. We are divorcing. The divorce will be final in 2015. So we will have been married 12 years.

    Prior to our marriage, my wife worked and paid into social security. Prior to our marriage I had worked at a job where I paid into social security enough to earn a benefit, which I believe is 40 quarters or 10 years (please correct me if I’m wrong). The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends me a statement of an estimate of my benefits, so I’m pretty sure I’m eligible for social security. However, both prior to and during our marriage, I worked for the State of Ohio for just over 22 years under a Civil Service Retirement System and did not pay into social security for those years. They did take a deduction from my check for Medicare.

    I’ve been reading the material from the SSA website on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) trying to understand if my wife or I either one will be eligible for any social security benefits. I cannot figure out if either one of us will receive any social security benefits because of the WEP and GPO reductions.

    Maybe you can help with my understanding of the WEP and GPO reductions. I am currently retired and receive my civil service retirement benefit from the State of Ohio of about $3,000 per month. My wife has not worked for any significant time since we married. Most all of her social security contributions were made while working prior to our marriage. I’m not so concerned about myself not receiving any social security benefit. But I’m concerned about my wife not receiving any because we have been married for over 10 years and the SSA uses that as an amount of time for benefit eligibility for an ex-spouse to receive benefits from their former spouse’s social security record.

    My understanding, which I’m not sure is correct, is the WEP reduction in benefit applies to me. However, I’m not sure who is affected by the GPO reduction in benefit, my wife, myself or both. My wife is estimated to receive a monthly benefit from the SSA of about $500 dollars. Will her benefit be affected by the 2/3 reduction the GPO uses? Or is that reduction used to reduce the benefit I might receive from her social security record? I’m hoping she will still be able to receive the $500 per month benefit at age 66, even though we will no longer be married, and not be penalized because of having been married to me for 12 years.

    Your help is greatly appreciated.

    • They sure make it confusing, don’t they? Here’s the scoop:
      People who have limited earnings under the social security system get a disproportionately high benefit due to a built-in subsidy, to protect those with limited means with a basic safety net. The WEP is in place to keep folks like you who worked within and outside the social security system from getting that enhanced social security benefit PLUS a government benefit. The WEP strips that enhancement out of the social security benefit, leaving you with very little in social security benefits, because you didn’t contribute much before you worked under another retirement system. So your understanding is correct, the WEP applies to your benefits, not your wife’s.

      Your wife doesn’t have a government pension, so her benefits under her $500 benefit will be paid to her without offset, assuming she has the requisite ten years of contributions.

      Once you see how small your benefit is once the enhancement is stripped away, you may decide that it would be better to get spousal benefits based on her social security earnings history. That $250 spousal benefit you receive would be reduced by 2/3 of your government pension under the GPO. The GPO only applies to spousal benefits paid to a spouse who has a government pension of their own. If your wife collected spousal benefits based on your social security history, the GPO wouldn’t apply to her spousal benefits, since she doesn’t have a government pension of her own.

  232. Mark Clark says:

    Thank you very much. You seem very knowledgeable and I appreciate your expertise. I’m glad to know my wife’s benefit will not be reduced.

    For me though, from what I understand you’re saying with respect to the GPO, I would not receive anything from my wife’s record because 2/3 of my government pension of $3,000 would be $2,000 dollars. So $250 minus $2,000 is a negative amount which means I will receive nothing from her social security record.

    This brings up another question. I understand as per the WEP reduction, I will be entitled to a social security benefit of about $300 dollars per month after the reduction. Now will my wife be entitled to a benefit, after we divorce and when she turns age 66, based on my social security record and how much would it be?

    Again thank you for your time and assistance.

    • if you are entitled to $300, then your wife would be entitled to $150 spousal benefit (which is called divorced spouse benefit if you are divorced.) Since her own benefit is $500, she would take her own benefit instead.

  233. Mark Clark says:

    Thank you. You have been very helpful. Have a great holiday season.

  234. Hello,

    I have a difficult question. My Grandmother was married and divorced 3 times. She was twice married to my Grandfather but each marriage was under 10 years. If you add the two marriages up it is over 10 years but she had a marriage in-between that was very short. Since she was married to my Grandfather over 10 years in total does she qualify for part of his social security benefit?

    Thank you!

  235. Hi, I sent a query in several days ago but don’t see it here. So again I’ll ask it. I was married for 14 1/2yrs to a man who earned a very high salary but was very controlling towards me so I didn’t have access to the house accounts, bank accounts, even shopping and cooking. Anyway when we were divorcing I was not well. I have suffered from depression most of my life and was seeing a psychiatrist and on medication. When we divorced my ex. convinced me to do the divorce ourselves ‘because lawyers cost a lot and that would be less for me and anyway we are on friendly terms’. He had a service produce the paperwork etc. and he calculated the alimony I was due. He then said that as their was no guarantee that he would have a job in the future given the economy, that I should accept a third in cash now. He bullied me into it at a time when I was ill and could not defend myself. It was mentioned on the divorce paperwork that we had sorted the finances ourselves. He was I now believe, siphoning off money every week to God knows where. There were just the two of us, we both drove old cars, and he would not buy shoes or clothes until the old ones wore out. He was a director of the company he worked for and he looked disheveled every day. We had no friends and rarely went out to eat or socialize. The divorce was in 2008 and I have had to return to Europe because I now cannot afford to live in California. I applied for jobs and ever even got an interview probably because of my age (58) and my poor work history. I would like to know if it would be beneficial to ask a lawyer to chase the money that he took and take him to court (?). On the paperwork it says that alimony is not re-negotiable I think (don’t have it to hand) but I’m hoping that a forensic accountant could find the money if employed. Would really appreciate any and all help and suggestions.

    • If you have evidence that he had funds in an account at the time you divorced that was not revealed, you can re-open the case and get that account divided. If you simply have a suspicion and no evidence, then it is doubtful that an attorney or forensic accountant could figure it out from the evidence at this point.

  236. RoseMarie Culotta says:

    My question: I live in Louisiana; married 45 yrs, recently divorced. I have been collecting SS since I have been 62 yrs old.(I am now 74 yrs old). My husband also took early SS (he now 71 yrs). Since we are divorced, can I apply for Divorced Spouse Benefits? I am getting $850 in SS; he receiving $1,400. Would I receive only 1/2 of his SS, and would have to keep mine, since mine is more than 1/2 of his?

    Thanks for an answer!

    • Yes you are entitled to divorced spouse benefits, which are equal to 50% of his benefits. If your benefits are higher than the divorced spouse benefits, you would receive your own benefit. And since you began collecting benefits early, whichever benefit you receive will be reduced.

  237. Hi, I’m wondering if Social Security will notify me of my ex-husbands death? I have no contact with him and no children. All I know is he lives in same state as I do. I’m 72 and we were married for 21years. Same question for him also, will SS notify him if I pass away first. I collect my own SS now. Thank you for helping.

    • If you told Social Security about the marriage when you applied for benefits, then they should have your two accounts linked and will automatically begin paying divorced surviving spouse benefits upon his death, if those benefit exceed what you are getting. And of course it works both ways.

      • Thank you Ms. Wall for being so helpful. It’s so nice of you to help others like you do. I honestly can’t remember that far back but that’s okay. I dont make much since I was disabled but I get by and I do feel strange or uncomfortable gaining income from the death of someone I’ve been divorced from for so long. I didnt even know divorced people could do this and frankly was surprised SS does this for ex-spouses. Note: My 2nd question to you was only because I had forgotten to include I was previously on disability, however if that doesn’t matter or change your answer you don’t have to reply, I just wanted to tell you. Thank you again for helping me and others. God bless.

  238. I forgot to include that I’m disabled and was receiving disability until SS switched me to just regular SS. I’ve been disabled since approximately 1976 I think. I dont know if that matters but want to include in my question above. Thank you.

  239. I have a question.
    My father died about 18 years ago. My mother and him never married but, leave together until he died.
    Now, i’m not so sure if she can get my dad’s s.s. benefits. can you help me this cituation?



    Social Security Rules regarding men and women: “at your full retirement age, your benefit as a spouse can be equal to one-half of your spouse’s full retirement amount.” (Social Security Website)

    When we retire, men receive a certain amount and their spouses receive half of that, or her own benefit amount, whichever is larger. When couples divorce, the assets are divided equally (hopefully). When we retire, the benefit is not divided equally.

    There is almost $3000 per month from Social Security as a total to my ex-husband and me. He receives almost $2000 per month while I receive almost $1000. In order for the payout to remain the same and yet be fair to both parties, the amount should be divided equally. (In this case, each person should receive approximately $1500 per month.) Over a period of 10 years, the difference between (in this case) his benefits and her benefits is about $100,000. This calculation process seems archaic.

  241. My husband and I married in the Philippines back in 1965. We were both Filipino citizens back then. He was stationed in the Army. We separated in 1979. I lived in the Phlippines while he lived in US. He became US citizen shortly thereafter. He remarried in US in 1993 to another woman. I am now a US citizen since 1997. I did not sign divorce papers for our marriage? Is my marriage to him in the Philippines recognized by US? Is his current marriage valid? Can I collect derivative benefits from his earnings?

    • Yes, your marriage should be recognized by the US. I don’t know if his current marriage is valid. And I don’t know what kind of benefits you are entitled to as his wife. In most states spouses have a duty to support each other, but you’ll need to consult with an attorney to find out the laws in your state.

  242. I was married 34 years and my husband died. When I turned 60 I started collecting on his social Security. I remarried and I am 65 and my husband is 78 and on social Security, we have been married almost 4 years, am I eligible to collect on my second husbands SS instead of my first husbands SS? My second husbands ex wife didn’t work enough to get her own SS so she collects off of his. Thank You for your help.

  243. I was married to a man for 9 years then divorced and then remarried for another 8 years am I eligible for his ss when he dies.

    • If you are married to someone who dies, you can collect widow’s benefits based on his earnings record. If you mean that you remarried the same man and are now divorced, then the two marriages need to have been less than a year apart. So if you divorced in 2009, but remarried before the end of 2010, the periods of marriage could be tacked together. But if you didn’t remarry until 2011, they couldn’t.

  244. My mother & father were married for 12yrs. She did not work during their marriage, he cheated & they divorced. Now 33yrs later he is trying to get her SS# to collect off the her benefit record. The divorce took place prior to her even ever working. As a matter of fact the state would not let her work until I was 6yrs old. I believe the divorce was before 1985. He does not deserve anything above what is on his own record. PLEASE HELP, ANY ADVICE would be greatly appreciated! What can I do…he left a family in which he is now trying to scam the SS system (to again for his own benefit). Thank you in advance!!

    • Since they were married for over 10 years, he is entitled to collect divorced spouse benefits based on her earnings record if the amount he is entitled to exceeds his own benefits. He is not scamming the social security system, that is the way the laws are written. You and your mother do not need to concern yourselves with what he is getting, since it doesn’t reduce what your mom is entitled to get.

  245. My husband divorced me without my knowledge by falsifying information. He put the wrong address on the form and claimed he tried to reach me and I could not be reached. It is not true that I was unreachable because we were still in touch. Also, just looking in a phone book would have given him the correct address, because he got the last name, street, city, and state correct but not the address. It is not a common last name and would be easy to find on that street. The divorce was finalized one week short of ten years. It was 20 years ago. Can I fight that in order to receive my Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse?

    • If you did not challenge the legality of the divorce at the time, then you likely cannot challenge it now, but you can certainly check with an attorney to see. Social security is based on the actual length of marriage. If the time from the date of marriage to the date of divorce is less than 10 years, then you are not entitled to divorced spouse benefits based on your former husband’s earnings history.

  246. I am eligible to receive my former spouse’s SS retirement benefits. I do not have his birth certificate but I do have all the other information. How can I proceed to apply for his benefits?

  247. 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?

  248. 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

  249. 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

    • 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.

  250. 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?

    • 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.

  251. Rita Howard says:

    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.

  252. 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?

  253. amanda johnson says:

    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

  254. 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.

    • 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.

  255. 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.

    • 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).

  256. maureen says:

    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?

    • 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.

  257. 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!!!

    • 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.

  258. 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.

  259. 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.

    • 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.

  260. Mary Wilson says:

    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?

  261. 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.

  262. 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?

  263. Maureen Robertson says:

    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?

    • 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.

  264. Jacqueline says:

    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?

  265. PJ Cunningham says:

    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?

    • 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.

  266. 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!

    • 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.

  267. 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!!

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

  268. David Haaland says:

    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.

    • You get the greatest of your own benefit or the surviving divorced spouse benefit, which is equal to 100% of what she would have gotten. Since your benefit is greater, that is the benefit you will get.

  269. David Haaland says:

    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?

  270. 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.

  271. 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!

  272. 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?

  273. 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?

    • 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.

  274. Joe Matlen says:

    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?

  275. 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!

  276. 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

  277. 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?

  278. 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

  279. Lynne Smith says:

    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?

  280. 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?

    • 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.

  281. Is a spouse notified when their EX is going to draw on their SS?

  282. 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?


  283. 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?

  284. 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

  285. Marcella R pannone says:

    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

  286. 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?

    • I’ll tell you who knows his social security number — the Social Security Administration! Contact them and let them know what happened, your husband’s name and location, and they can figure it out.

  287. Thank you, Ginita. it’s hard for me to get out, but it’s certainly with a try if it mean a few more dollors and
    peace of mind at my age.

  288. Thank you

  289. 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?

  290. Linda Kologi says:

    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?

    • 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.

  291. Michael Latessa says:

    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.

  292. Michael Latessa says:

    Thanks Ginita, do you have any idea how far they can go back? Again, thank you!

  293. Catherine says:

    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.

    • 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.

  294. Catherine says:

    Thank you. Will keep you informed. Cat

  295. 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!

    • 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.

  296. 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?

    • 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.

  297. 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!