Can I Get Social Security Benefits from My Ex-Spouse Even If It’s Not in My Divorce Decree?

Social SecurityQuestion I recently heard that I may be entitled to collect Social Security benefits when I retire based on my ex-husband’s earnings. But I looked at my divorce decree and it doesn’t say anything about it. Did I miss the boat?

Answer

Here’s some good news about your divorce. If you were married to your ex-spouse for ten years before your divorce became final, you are entitled to Social Security benefits based on his earnings by operation of federal law.

That means it doesn’t have to be addressed in your divorce papers to be effective. Those benefits are called “derivative benefits,” and they equal one-half of your ex-husband’s benefits. You may apply to the Social Security Administration for derivative benefits on your ex’s earnings record if you:

  • Are at least 62 years old, and your ex-spouse is also
  • Aren’t remarried
  • Would receive less Social Security without the derivative benefits on your own

Don’t worry if your ex threatens to keep working in order to thwart your ability to claim benefits against his record. These are empty threats. It isn’t necessary for him to retire for you to begin collecting.

How Derivative Benefits Work

Here’s another piece of good news. Unlike other pensions, the derivative Social Security benefits you receive will be based on your ex-spouse’s entire earnings record, not just his earnings during the time you were married.

The Social Security benefits you receive won’t reduce the amount he receives. If he’s remarried, it won’t reduce what his current wife is entitled to receive. And if he has a new family, it won’t reduce the amount his young children receive either.

You can only receive one Social Security check, so if your own earnings record entitles you to more money than the derivative benefits, you’ll collect benefits based on the highest amount to which you are entitled.

If you have more than one ex-spouse, and you were married to each of them for ten years or longer, you’ll collect whichever earnings record gives you the higher benefits.

Be aware that if you are a government employee, your Social Security benefits will be reduced by a portion of any government pension that you are receiving based on your own earnings. However, if you receive a government pension because an ex-spouse worked for the government, it won’t affect your ability to collect Social Security.

I hope this explanation thoroughly answered your question. Have more questions about the financial fallout of divorce? Browse through our helpful divorce article archive just for women and consider signing up for a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop. These workshops bring in divorce experts to answer your most pressing divorce questions and to help you prepare for this life-changing transition.

879 thoughts on “Can I Get Social Security Benefits from My Ex-Spouse Even If It’s Not in My Divorce Decree?”

  1. My mother-in-law did not know she qualified to recieve social security from her devoriced husband so did not file when she turned 62. She is now 76. She currently recieves 700 a month in Social security benefits. He recieves 2,800. How much money will she recieve? Can she get get benefits for all those years she qualifed to recieve them but didn’t collect?

    1. Hmmm. When she applied for social security benefits, it is their custom to ask her if she is married or in the past was married for 10 years or longer to anyone. If she failed to give Social Security that information, she should furnish it immediately, since they only pay six months of back benefits.

  2. My husband and I were married for 34 years when we got divorced. 3 years later I got married but it only lasted 6 months. I am now 61 and I was wondering if I can still collect survivor benefits from my ex husband?

    1. If you ex-husband is deceased, you can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits, if they exceed your own. If he is still alive, you can collect divorced spouse benefits if those are greater than your own benefits.

  3. Hi. I was married for 19 years. I have been divorced for 17 years now. I have been in a domestic partnership (opposite sex) for 5 years. We live in Colorado where it is recognized. I would like to get the spousal benefit from my ex husband. I am 64. he is 67. Can I still do that since I am in a domestic partnership with someone else?

    1. To my knowledge, social security doesn’t recognize a domestic partnership as a marriage, so in their eyes you are not married, and therefore eligible for divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings history, if those benefits exceed your own.

  4. I was married for 9 yrs 10 and 1/2 months. My ex convinced me to use the same attorney and he would pay for the divorce. He was abusive to me and my kids and I was only thinking of getting out. His 401k and retirement was not addressed in our divorce. I am disabled at 56 now after 10 years of beat downs. SS wont let me drawl off him because he had me sign before our anniversary. He died about 1 to 2 months ago. This was in Mississippi. I live in Virginia. Is there anything I can do. He pulled another of his eval plans and it worked. I have been remarried and divorced. Single for 20 yrs now. Help

    1. To collect surviving divorced spouse benefits you must have been married to him for 10 years or longer, measured from the date you married to the date the divorce was final under the laws of the state in which it occurred. If you were not married for 10 years or longer, you do not qualify for the benefits.

  5. If I am married to my 2nd hubby less then 10 years(8 right now,happily married) will I get his SS or only widow pension if he died…I know I’m not eligible my 1st hubby’s SS (married 22 years)as I remarried 2nd hubby at 55 years of age???? TY in advance…(I don’t have much SS on my own working record) Very concerning as I am now almost 63 and he is going to be 60…Am I eligible for any sort of SS now?

    1. You’ll get widow benefits of 100% of what he’d get if he lived. As soon as he applies for benefits, you can collect spousal benefits. Until then, you can apply and collect your own benefits on your own history, if you have one.

        1. If you are married and your spouse dies, you will get widow benefits even if you were married less than 10 years. The 10 year rule applies only if you were divorced before he died.

  6. If a person gets awarded SSDI and their exspouse from a 14 year marriage works for the federal government, can they get the ex spouses social security ?

    1. Social security retirement benefits are by operation of federal law and not affected by provisions in your divorce agreement. When you begin to get social security retirement benefits, you will get an amount equal to your own or equal to 50% of your spouse’s social security retirement benefit. If your spouse was covered under a federal retirement system and not under the social security system, then their benefit will be very low or non-existent, so in that instance you would get your own social security retirement benefit.

  7. I was married from June 27, 1981 to December 14,1990. Six month shy of 10 year anniversary. Is there any flexibility when it comes to applying for my ex spouse’s social security? Since I lost many years in the work force it would help a lot for retirement.

  8. Lillian Taresa Bantug

    I am 68 yrs, old & was married to my ex husband for 28. yrs & we divorced 5 yrs. ago. He recently turned 62 yrs. old and remarried about 3 months ago. He passed away suddenly this month. I have been on SSI for 15 yrs. as I am disabled. Am I eligible to file for his Social Security .?

    1. Yes, since you remarried after the age of 60, you can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings history if those benefits exceed the benefits you are entitled to on your own earning history and on your current spouse’s earnings history.

      1. I am 56 yrs old,and haven’t had a job since 2014,my ex husband of 22 yrsis drawing a disability check.Can I draw off of him.We both were married a second time,but neither of our marriages lasted for 10 years.I’m not getting any Benefits except food stamps.

        1. If you are disabled you can draw Social Security disability until you are retirement age, and retirement benefits after that. If not, then you will need to wait until you are at least 62 to draw Social Security retirement benefits, based on whichever earnings record provides the greatest benefit. Meanwhile you may be eligible for SSI for low income, but I don’t know anything about that program, so contact Social Security and ask what benefits you can get now.

  9. Once SS office told me I could collect on my ex-husband’s ss & continue to build mine up, I am 63 – we were married over 30 years & I have not remarried. I had to go to another SS office to file & they told me I could not claim on his – that that ended in 2016. Can you tell me what it really is?

    1. When you apply for social security retirement benefits, they will pay you the highest amount to which you are entitled, your own benefit or divorced spouse benefit based on his earnings record. You no longer can elect to take the lower divorced spouse benefit and let your own benefit continue to grow to age 70.

  10. I was married to my now ex-wife twice. The first marriage lasted almost 10 years (114 months) and the second one lasted 7 years. Is the SS rule 120 months for an ex-spouse to collect SS?
    Thanks,

    1. To collect divorced spouse benefits, your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer. If the remarriage took place during the same year as the divorce or during the next calendar year after the divorce, the two marriages to the same person can be aggregated. But if there was an intervening calendar year during which the two of you were not married, then they can’t.

  11. I was married to my husband for eight years. Because of life-threatening domestic violence, I left. Have you heard of any court rulings considering these factors for a wife to receive half of husband’s social security benefits? We dated for 5 years prior to marriage.

  12. Hi, you almost answered my questions and I have been searching for the answer all over the net. It’s so frustrating and I know there’s got to be many people with this question.

    I am 65, was married over 10 years, now divorced, I have not remarried. My ex-husband is in the process of applying for Social Security Disability and will receive 2100 if he is approved. I am on Disability at this time and I draw 1500. If I apply on his record, would mine be increased to 2100?

    1. To my knowledge, your disability is figured on your own record. When you reach full retirement age and it converts to Social Security retirement benefits, you will get the greater of retirement benefits based on your own earnings history, or divorced spouse benefits that are the equivalent of 50% of what he’s entitled to on his earnings history.

  13. I have found conflicting answers to my question. I am disabled, on ssdi based on my own earnings record and am now 62 (Born in 1956). My spouse started collecting s.s. at his full retirement age and continues to work full-time.. If he were to pass away before I reach age 66, would I be eligible for 100% of his benefit (as it would be $600 a month more then I currently receive) or would it be reduced? Would the benefit amount then increase once I reached age 66?

  14. Please clarify divorced spouse benefits “Not be entitled to a benefit based on their own work that is equal to or higher than the full insurance amount on your record” Does this mean my benefit can’t be more than half of what I would receive from his full benefit amount? Or does it mean since my full benefit is more than his that I’m not eligible to receive any of his? Ever?

    Neither remarried after 23 yrs of marriage. I’m still working age 64.5; he is aged 70 (received SS $2290 at age 66), retired, receives $3042 social security monthly. My full benefit at MRA of 66 is $2356. If I elect to receive 50% of his SS will it be half of what he’s currently receiving ie half of $3042? Can I continue to draw half of his benefit amount and let mine grow?

    Also, what happens if he dies? Will I still continue to draw half of his benefit until I elect to receive my benefit?

    1. As a divorced spouse, you can collect your own benefits or an amount based on his earnings record which is about 50% of what he’s entitled to get. You’ll get the higher amount of those two. In your case, kit sounds as though your own benefits produces a higher amount, so that’s what you’ll get. When you apply they’ll pay you based on the highest amount. You can’t make a choice to collect benefits based on his record and let your own grow. If he dies, you’ll be entitled to surviving divorced spouse benefits equal to an amount about 100% of what he was entitled to receive, if that exceeds your own benefits.

  15. Danielle mcgee

    I am divorced after 27 years , I am considering entering a common law marriage and taking his name .
    Could I lose my ex’s ss benefits.

    1. If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage and you comply with all the requirements for such a marriage in that state, that marriage will be recognized by the Social Security Administration, and you will no longer be eligible for divored spouse retirement benefits. The states that recognize common law marriage are Colorado, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

  16. I am a 58 years old widow. My husband passed away 3 years ago.

    If I take survivor spousal benefit at 60 on my husband’s SSS, will my own SSS benefit be permanently reduced when I take it at 67 full retirement age because I first took SSS survivor benefit at 60?

    Please let me know. Thanks!

  17. I am 63 and wondered if I can get my own lesser benefits now, and then about a year from now switch to my late husbands, which is much more.

    Thanks,

  18. I am 50 and receive Social Security Disability based off my working income. My spouse is 60 and retired from UPS with a $2,500 monthly pension. He is back working full time at a railroad, plus receives his UPS pension, both totaling $90K/year. He wants to work 4 more years and then retire from the railroad and take an additional $2000/mo social security. Is there anyway I can collect my Social Security disability based off his earned wages rather than mine? I read a lot that you advise, even if divorced, as long as you were married 10 years, the spouse can collect on the husband’s earnings. I’ve been married 15 years. I’ll obviously never retire since I’m disabled, so is there ever a time I can change me social security to be off his wages rather than my disability?

  19. Lea Douglass-Haralson

    I was drawing early retirement benefits from my x husbands record and was considering re-marrying. Called the Soc. Sec. office and was told I would not loose benefits, and I could draw on my new husbands record, which was more in one year. We were married and went to Soc. Sec. office on one year anniversary and applied for new husbands benefits. Got a letter from Soc. Sec. saying they overpaid me on my x husbands benefits record and they were taking my entire new benefit until it was paid. We followed what Soc. Sec. said we needed to do and lost over $3000 in benefits.

  20. Hi there. I have a simple question. I am on a social security disability and I have been divorced twice. Now I like to marry my long time domestic partner ( I mean same sex marriage ) do I loose some of the benefits or income from my monthly disability check?

  21. My husband is deceased, he was collecting SS benefits at 62. I am still working and will turn 60 in November. If I collect on his benefits, is there a limit of how much money I can make at my current job?

  22. i am 49 and am currently disabled i draw social security disability based on my work record. if i get married to a 34 year old can i switch and draw off his social security if it is more then what i am currently drawing? was also wondering if i would be giving up my medicare and medicaid if i got married, i get medicare medicade and tn care in tn and also part D prescription drug plan does any of these insurance plans go away if i get married… thanks so much…

  23. I WAS MARRIED TO MY EX HUSBAND FOR 34 YRS WE GOT A DIVORCE 2013 AND HE DIED MARCH 2017. AM I OR MY CHILD INTITLED TO HIS SOCIAL SECURITY?

  24. I’m 64 and still working with no immediate plans to retire. I don’t want to yet draw on my benefits, but can I draw on my exspouse benefits now, before I want to draw my own? It would sure be helpful. We were married 25 yrs and they are now remarried, I’m still single.

    1. If you apply for social security retirement benefits now, before full retirement age, what you receive will be forevermore reduced. You will receive the greatest of your own benefits or divorced spouse benefits, and I’m guessing your own benefits are highest. In addition, what you receive will be further reduced by 50 cents for each dollar you earn above $16,920. All in all, it may not be worth it to you to begin taking benefits now, given that you’d likely be drawing benefits on your own earnings history that are twice reduced.

  25. I am 58 yrs old and divorced for the last 10 yrs. we were married for 15. My question is when I turn 62 can I collect off my ex husbands social security and the save mine for when I turn 70..and then collect off of mine?

      1. A follow up question to your reply to Karen…If I earned more than my ex husband over the years, can I start collecting reduced benefits on mine at 62 and then switch to his full benefits later? And if so, at what age?

        1. You cannot choose which benefit to collect, they will pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled. Your benefits will exceed the divorced spouse benefits which are equal to 50% of the benefits he is entitled to.

  26. I am going to retire next month I will eligble to apply I will be 62 in november question is I was married almost 20 yeas but divorced my ex wife is not yet 62 but she draws social security disability will I be able to draw on that ?

    1. You may draw reduced social security retirement benefits once you are 62, or wait until you are 66 and draw full benefits.
      If your divorced spouse benefits (approx 50% of what she’s eligible to receive) would give you more than benefits based on your own earnings record, you may draw those benefits instead of your own once she is age 62 or older.
      You may not draw disability benefits unless you are disabled, and even then, you would draw based on your own earnings record, not on hers.

  27. Jesus ladies, how about you pull up your big girl panties and earn your own living? All these questions about ‘can I get my ex husbands this or can I keep my new husbands that” are pathetic. You want equal rights but then you want to play the “poor ex wife” card. I’m honestly ashamed to be the gender as some of you vultures.

    1. Some of us were told by our husbands we didn’t have to (or should not work). Some of us homeschooled our kids during the marriage. Some are caring for grandchildren because their mothers and fathers aren’t “pulling up their big kid panties”. And anyone can be partially or fully disabled at any age without having worked enough on our own. There’s no shame in wanting equal rights while also supporting traditional marriage. To many (most?) of us equal rights simply means we can own property, go to work for equal pay for the same job. That does not erase the desire for traditional marriage in which one spouse takes care of home comforts and children while the other works full time. It is actually better for the children if the marriage is sound.

      You have an extremely judgmental point of view. Remember dear, what the ex-wife gets will not affect *your* benefits. (I do believe however that benefits should be reserved for the first marriage of ten years or more – Johnny Carson might be a good example of what drains the system, with four wives and three eligible for ex-spouse benefits.

  28. I am 61 years old and I currently receive reduced surviving divorced spouse benefits based on my ex-husband who died. Now I would like to get remarried to a 55-year-old man. My questions:
    1) Since I am over 60 when I remarry, that marriage will not affect the surviving divorced spouse benefits that I am already receiving, right?
    2) I have no income besides the surviving divorced spouse benefit. BUT my fiancé has a high salary that is way over the SS earnings limit. When I marry him and we file a joint tax return, will HIS high income then prevent ME from continuing to receive my surviving divorced spouse benefit? (In other words, will the excess earnings penalty come into play even though I personally continue to have no earnings, but my fiancé has a high salary).

      1. Thank you so much! Ok, just to clarify, the income of the man I am about to marry will not have any effect on the surviving divorced spouse benefit that I already receive. As long and I do not have excess earnings myself, it will not matter that my new husband has excess earnings? The SSA will go by individual earnings and not the combined earnings of the wife and husband?

        The reason for my confusion is that I will of course have to file a joint tax return after we are married, and the income on that tax return (which will be 100% from HIM) is higher than the earnings limit.

  29. The more I read, the more confused I get. I took early retirement on my own SS record at age 62. I am now married and my husband receives SS disability. He is 68 and I am now 67. If I apply for spousal benefits now, (I am 67 yrs. old) and we have been married for 2 yrs., will I get the full 50% of his benefits, or will it be reduced because I have been collecting on my own since I was 62 yrs.? If he should die before me, will my survivor benefits also be reduced? Would it be better to just keep on receiving my own reduced benefits or should I apply for spousal benefits on his record? My own benefit is very low, but if I were to be penalized for collecting on his record now and it would affect my widow’s benefits, I would rather not. I fear he will die first and I will be left trying to survive on my pittance.

    1. If you switch over to spousal benefits, those too will be reduced since you began collecting retirement benefits early. Your survivor (widow) benefits will not be reduced even though you began getting your retirement benefits early, as long as you are full retirement age when you begin collecting survivor benefits. You should ask for the highest benefit now to which you are entitled. Collecting spousal benefits will not reduce widow benefits you can collect later on.

  30. Hi, I am 70-year-old and disabled from birth. I divorced and remarried at age 55. Am I qualify for my ex-husband’s social security benefit as he just passed away? BTW I was married to him for more than 10 years. Thanks.

  31. Catherine Light

    I was married for 19 years. Divorced. I remarried for 6 years and am divorced. Can I apply for my first husband’s social security? I am 62. He is 66 but has not retired. Am I eligible for half his Social Security benefit? How do I find out if half of his benefit is greater than my current retirement. I may retire now.

    1. When you retire, for Social Security you will receive the greater of your own benefits or an amount equal to 50% of his benefits. If you begin getting benefits before age 66, the benefits will be reduced for early commencement. You can contact Social Security to find out what you are eligible to receive.

      1. In my first marriage I was married for over 12 years. I remarried for 7 years now divorced.
        Can I apply for my first husband’s social security when I reach retirement age I am 61 now. He has already retired and is 66.

        1. When you are of retirement age (62 or older) you may apply for divorced spouse benefits based on his earnings record if those benefits exceed your own. They are not “his social security” since they do not come out of what he receives. They are based on his earnings history.

  32. If my husband passes away can I collect on his SS benefit (he is collecting now) until I reach my full retirement age or age 70 & then switch to collecting on my earnings? My benefit will be higher than his. I would like to wait until I’m 70 to collect on my own earnings but this would not be possible financially without his SS benefit. Thank You

    1. If he dies and you begin collecting then, they will pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled, which sounds like it is your benefit. So if you want to wait until 70 to collect on your own benefit, then don’t apply until then. If you need income sooner, apply when you need it and get the highest benefit to which you are entitled.

    2. Thank you for the quick response. Although my husband has been collecting his benefit for many years, can he switch to collecting on my benefit since it’s higher?

      1. Once you begin collecting, he would be eligible for spousal benefits if those are higher than what he is getting. Spousal benefits are an amount roughly equal to 50% of what your benefit is.He can collect whichever is higher.

  33. I was married at age 17 in 1974, then in 1992 we got divorced (18 years of marriage). It was a very friendly divorce and we are still very good friends. We have 2 children now age 40 and 35. I have never remarried, but he has remarried 3 times and is single now. I am 60 years old now, he is 62 years old. I am on Disability, since 2005. He is very very ill and is in bad shape. I get Medicad and Medicare. My SSI (I think is what I am getting is $765.00 a month). If my ex-husband passes away, am i allowed to get benefits from his SS. Please let me know thank you

  34. Kathryn Bradley

    I had to start taking my social security benefit at 65 a moderately reduced rate, and I found out after a month that even though my ex has remarried I am entitled to half of his social security benefits. Is it to late to file for that and what documents do I need? Also do I need to repay what I have received and how do I do that??

    1. Contact social security right away to see if you are entitled to a greater amount than your are receiving. I’m guessing no, that the divorced spouse benefit doesn’t exceed what you are already getting, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  35. My husband is 72 and I’m 69. We are getting a divorce and I need to know in plain language what the Social Security benefits would be. He gets 2100. a month and I receive a 1000. I realize I’m eligible for half of his, but then I give up my check and the benefit only increases by $50. ??
    Thank you.
    PS…We live in Arizona

    1. If you were married for 10 years or longer, your divorced spouse benefits likely will be the same amount as your spousal benefits have been. So you will continue receiving the $1000 a month if you are currently receiving the highest benefit for which you are eligible. You can ask Social Security to tell you how they compute the benefit you are getting.

  36. I am 69 and currently receiving ex-spouse benefits before switching to my own next year. There has not been contact between us for years and he has remarried. If I am ultimately eligible for ex-spouse death benefits (which will greatly exceed my own SS benefits) is there is any way for me to learn of my ex-spouse’s eventual passing without direct contact with him or his family?

  37. Hi, I have a few questions ,,I’m married for 20 yrs to a housewife, we are thinking of DV,, I’m 54 she 62 has never worked that long to draw,,,,now she was married for 11 yrs before me,, this guy died 5 yrs ago,,, now if we DV can she draw from his ssi an is there a waiting period fore her to collect.

    thx

    stan

      1. hi, thx for the reply, I I have a few more question,,, how long will it take for her to start collecting, also how can see find out any information on the amount she entailed to…

  38. I would like to know if turn 65 in 2018 and apply for SS I realize it would be at a lesser rate. However if turn 66 and it has been less than 1 year until I reach 66 will my benefit increase to 100%?

  39. I am 62 years old, Canadian and moved to the US in 2009. I have worked here in the US part time since 2011 and will have 40 quarters of part time work in 2021. I divorced in 2013 and started to receive SS in August of 2016 when I turned 62. I have a good pension from Canada for work performed as a police officer, Its a provincial government pension. How is WEP going to affect my SS when I go on my own record. Can I wait till age 70 to go on my record. My annual earnings during the 40 Quarters will be $12000 a year. Also if I remarry and my future spouse is getting SS on her deceased husbands record, how does this affect me after we marry. Thanks for your help,

    1. Since you did not pay into the US social security system while working in Canada as a police officer, your Canadian pension would affect your benefits just as any US pension would if you weren’t paying into the social security system while working. Each year you will receive the highest benefit to which you are entitled, and so it sounds as though your divorced spouse benefit is greater than your WEP-reduced benefit on your own earnings. If you remarry, then you will get the greater of spousal benefits on your new spouse’s earnings record or your own WEP-reduced benefits. What she is collecting won’t affect you.

  40. I am turning 65 in April. I’m currently on my disability due to auto immune diseases. I am also on survivors benefits from my ex-husband of 20 year marriage, he died 2 months after we divorced. I have hefty penalties that I pay to Medicare each month because I was entitled to Medicare but choose to be on my then husbands private insurance.
    I understood that my penalties will go away at age 65 because I will switch from disability benefits to retirement benefits, is that still current with procedure?
    I was married prior to my 20 year marriage for a little more than 10 years, he makes a good salary, can I use his income for spousal benefits instead of my last husband since he is deceased? I don’t think I will have enough work credits because of my disability.
    So, am I entitled to my own SS. as well as spousal benefits?

    1. I don’t know the answer to your question regarding the health insurance benefits and penalties under Medicare. When you begin receiving retirement benefits, they will pay you based on one of your former husbands earnings history or your own benefits, whichever is higher.

  41. Hi Ginita!

    What a wonderful blog of all kinds of information for all of us who do not fully understand the system. My question to you is sort of 4 pronged. I recently at 58 started receiving SSI in Michigan (Sept 2015) at the full amount of 733.00. Separated at time from my 2nd husband but not divorced. Have just received a letter from the SSI people that “they need to talk to me on the 19th of this month to review my case.” I recently moved as the place where I was staying was sold. I did not read that you had to inform them and had two deaths in my family and was and still am quite disoriented. Does not help that my care in the county I lived prior has been discontinued as I live in another now, was seen there and they determined that I was not eligible for mental health therapy paid by Medicaid. So now I am on my own to seek treatment. Even though my current husband does not live with me, he collects his SS and it is 746 a month as he was forced out of his job at 62. If he were to move back in with me how would this affect my SSI in Michigan of 733? I have heard and read it is better to get divorced now, and wait until I can collect on the husband I was first was married for 18 years to a man that made over 100k a year. I am sure he has the max out so would I be wise to divorce this husband once and for all, keep my SSI and wait until I can collect the 50% @ 62 from my previous husband which would be way more at 50% than my paltry 733 a month? I am living way below poverty now, and pay out of my 733.00 244.00 towards rent and get only 16.00 from SNAP. Also, how do they figure the amount of value to your car as I just got a 2012 Kia Rio, is that also counted as an asset even tho I make the payments? Thank you so much for your site, your information is spot on.

    1. If you are still married at age 62, you can begin receiving reduced Social Security spousal retirement benefits on your current husband. If you are divorced when you reach age 62, you can begin receiving reduced Social Security divorce spouse retirement benefits based on Husband #1, if he is also age 62 or older. I do not know your answer about SSI disability benefits.

  42. I am 45 and my first husband is 71. I’ve since been married 3 times after my first and divorced all 3. Just recently, it came to my attention that my first marriage was never finalized, that can’t be good! So would I still be entitled to his SS benefits?

    1. If your marriage was never finalized, that is, there was not a valid marriage certificate filed, then you were not married in the eyes of the government and you would not be entitled to any benefits on his record. If you and he were married, and you never got a divorce, then you would be entitled to benefits based on his earnings record once you are of retirement age. That would be true whether or not you continued to be married to him or filed for divorce, since you were married for 10 years plus.

  43. Good morning. Widowed at age 51. Would have been entitled to widow benefit (reduced) at age 60. However, remarried at age 56 but subsequently divorced new husband at age 59. Will I be able to apply for the widow’s benefit since I divorced new husband before I turned 60?

  44. Started collecting reduced Social Security benefits at age 62. Had to for financial reasons. I am now 70. Was married for 11 years, divorced over 20 years ago, never remarried. My ex is currently 66 & remarried. I just applied for divorced spouse benefits surmising (correctly it turns out) that even 1/2 of his benefit would be greater than my reduced one. Didn’t realize I could have applied when he turned 62 & now wish I had.
    I presented my marriage & divorce docs to the agent but didn’t have his SSNO so she checked her system & found he was already receiving benefits. She didn’t reveal when he had applied but told me he responded “No” to the question: had he had any prior marriages. She told me I was eligible to receive nearly $200/mo more under his benefits than my own & that she was approving a retroactive 6 mo lump sum for the additional amount. This was all she, at her level, could approve but considering the discrepancy on his application she was requesting a further inquiry at a higher level to determine whether I could receive the increased amount going all the way back to his initial application, which may have been as far back as 4 years. I think she said if he had answered “Yes” since I was already collecting & in the system at the time of his application, then I would have been notified of my eligibility to apply under his benefits. His “No” answer possibly is depriving me of several years of increased benefits. If I had applied under his benefits when he was 62, and first eligible, at least my marriage to him would be in the system
    Anyone have experience with this kind of situation?

  45. I am 64 (66 is my full ss age). If I get my SS at age 64 will I be able to change benefits to receive survivor benefits on ex-spouse (married 20+) in the event of his death? (He is 75)

  46. Great article ~ but Help! I am just starting the Divorce process and wondered if I can collect on my husbands soc.sec benefits now or do I have to wait until were divorced. I am now 63 and he is 67.
    we are separated but not legally. He is a rat. Please answer my question as I am caring for our daughter who had a life altering accident without any support from him whatsoever!!!
    Been caring for her for the past 6 years. He wants me to sign off on the Divorce and I am going to try everything to get financial reimbursement for her care and for also paying all of her Educational Expenses that of course he passed on. Like I said he’s a rat. Thank you for answering my question!
    please email me the answer and i will check here daily too for the answers.

    Thank you!
    Emily

    1. If he is collecting benefits, you may begin collecting spousal benefits (reduced because you are not yet full retirement age. Those benefits will become divorced spouse benefits when you divorce. If he is not collecting benefits, you will have to wait until two years after your divorce is final to collect, but in the meantime you can collect based on your own earnings history.

    1. If you are receiving social security benefits based on your earnings record, you will continue to receive those benefits regardless of your marital status. If you are receiving benefits based on a former spouse’s earnings record, those benefits will stop and you will be eligible to collect benefits based on your new spouse’s earnings history, if he is retired. If you are receiving benefits based on a deceased spouse’s benefits, you will continue to receive those benefits if you are at least age 60 when you remarry.

  47. I was married for 30 years my ex-husband remarried …I am 57 at retirement age will I be able to collect social security from my ex-husbands earnings even though he is remarried? If yes what percent would I collect?

    1. When you reach retirement age you can collect benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings history. What you receive will vary between 37% and 50% of what he is eligible to collect, based on your age at the time you begin collecting benefits (age 62 – 66).

  48. I was married and had a child with my husband. We were in early 20’s. My husband died and I receive ssi from his working from maybe 7 yrs of working (total all his jobs). I am not disabled neither is our child. I work under the allotted amount so I still receive my full amount and I have not remarried, nor will I. I have been receiving his benefits for almost 10 yrs now. I’m wondering since I’ve been receiving benefits for longer than he worked, will my benefits run out? Being I comply with not getting married and working the allotted amount so I don’t lose what I get now. I understand if my husband was in his 40-50’s and died but he was so young and only worked a few years, I’m wondering how I’m still receiving SSI. (Spousal support income)

    1. Social security is paid to children of a deceased parent and to the widow if she is caregiver and has limited income. Once the child is grown both payments cease. Social security retirement is paid to widows who are at least 60 or older. None of the rules say anything about how long the worker worked.

  49. i am a 72 year old woman. i was married for 20 years to my first husband 1962-1988. i married my 2nd husband in 1988 and we are still married. my first husband just passed away and earned much more money then my 2nd husband. i was told if i divorced i would be entitled to my first husbands s/s benifets. would this be legal? how long before higher benifits begin?

  50. I was married to my ex for 24 years. I am 68 and single. I started receiving benefits based on his earnings at my full retirement age of 66. I am still working full time and wanted to wait till I am 70 and start drawing on my own earnings. My ex now has a serious illness. My question is, will my benefits (based on his earnings) stop should he pass away or will they continue as usual?

  51. This question is for my wife’s benefit.

    I will be 69 in December. My wife turned 69 last June. My wife started receiving SS benefits at 62. I am still working and made the decision not to collect my SS benefits until 70. Last year I started taking half of my wife’s benefits, about $700. When I turn 70, can my wife get half of my benefits at 70 or half of my benefits at FRA of 66?

    1. Your wife will get her own reduced benefits or spousal benefits equal to 50% of your full retirement benefits, reduced because she began collecting early. You will get an ehancement of 8% a year fr 4 years because you waited until age 70 to collect.

  52. I am 63 years old and still working. I am thinking of retiring at age 66 or sooner. I was married to my first husband for ten years. I remarried after that for 7 1/2 years. I am currently not married nor intend to be married ever again. My question is, can I still received Social Security benefits from my first husband since I am no longer married? I know the rule is you can’t remarry to receive benefits. I didn’t know if since I am now not married and haven’t been for many years if that made any difference???

  53. I am wondering how it works if your ex-spouse is younger. I will be eligible for retirement in 3 years, I was married to my ex for 12 and have not remarried. We have been divorced for 8 years. Do I have to wait until he is 62 to collect on his ss? If I were to start collecting my ss at 62 can I switch to his when I am 67?

    1. Until he is age 62, you will collect social security benefits based on your earnings history. Once you are both age 62 or older, you will receive the highest benefit, your own benefit or your divorced spouse benefit.

  54. I am 67 and plan on working until I turn 70, which would make my retirement about $2,000 a month.
    If I pull from my ex-husband’s SS now I would get $1,000.00 a month (while I am still working).
    The SS office says that when I retire at age 70, I can then pull from my SS OR my ex’s whichever is higher?
    Is this true?
    Thank you.

    1. Yes, that is correct. Since you were over 62 at the beginning of the year, you can take advantage of the old restricted application rules, which let you choose which benefit to take, rather than requiring you to take the higher one, as is provided in the new rules. So the smart thing to do is to collect divorce spouse benefits while letting your own benefits grow until you are 70, and then switching over. Apply as soon as you can — since you were eligible to do this at age 66, every month you delay is an additional $1000 that you don’t collect.

  55. My ex husband and I were married for 30 years. He was the higher earner of the two of us. Neither of us has remarried. He is 5 years younger than me.
    I took my Social Security Benefits based on my small earnings at age 62. He plans on taking his Social Security benefits next year when he turns 62. I realize that if I take benefits based on his earnings when he reaches 62 (considering it’s higher than mine) that the amount will be less than 50% because of both of us taking it early.
    My question is this……..my ex is in very bad health, and even though I am not wishing that he die, I am wondering what happens if he does. I know that normally when an ex dies, I would receive 100% of his Social Security….but since he will take it early at age 62, and then he died, would I receive 100% of what he would get at FULL retirement age or only what he got at early retirement age of 62?
    Thank you in advance

  56. I am 63, my ex-husband will be 62 soon. I was home with a family and self-employed, and have little SS based on my own income, We were married for over 12 years. He is a high wage earner. Would I be entitled to more in monthly SS payments if I wait until I turn 66, than if I begin to collect as soon as he turns 62?

  57. I was married for 23 yrs and we divorced. After 8 yrs apart we want to remarry. He is 62 and getting disability ss. I am younger 57 . It’s confusing to me do I have to start over and be with him another 10 yrs before I can collect? I will be 67 he made more money as I was raising our children.

  58. I will be 65 next December, and I am getting spousal benefit from my husband SS from when I was 62. We have been married almost 8 years. If we divorce I am still eligible to get spousal benefit? Thank you for you time.

  59. I’ve been divorced 10 yrs and my ex and I are considering remarrying. I’m 65 and he’s 71. We were married 34 yrs. I’m wondering how this would affect both of our benefits should we remarry.. He’s retired but I’m working. I make a little over $15,000 a yr. I took social security early at the age of 62.

    1. I don’t think that remarrying will affect the social security benefits you receive: if you are collecting your own benefits, they won’t change. If you are collecting divorced spouse benefits, you’ll substitute spousal benefits for those, but since they are both based on his earnings record, they should be of equal amounts.

    2. One added note…I gross $21,000 a yr about $1100 a month and he receives $1700 social security. I’m currently getting $200 from his benefits and 500 from mine.

  60. I was married for 22 years to a man who made a lot more money that I earned. We left me for another woman in 2008 and we divorced in 2009. At the time, he was earning about $100,000 a year. I will turn 62 next month and would like to retire, If I do, my SS benefit will only be $1200 a month based on my highest salary which was $67,400.00 last year. Could I retire and receive a benefit based on his income ($1000,000 instead)?

  61. Janice Simpson

    I was married for 43 years and worked for him but never got paid a salary or Social Security. I had enough work experience before I was married to qualify on my own. I began receiving SS at age 62 and it consisted of both mine and his. I am now 69 and we have been divorced for 1 year. The Social Security Office told me I had to bring in the divorce papers and my SS could be reduced and I might have to pay back some money.

    Does this sound right and what, if any, options do I have since I took early payments.

    1. No that doesn’t sound right. Spousal benefits and divorced spouse benefits are generally equal, and if you are receiving spousal benefits when you divorce, there is no waiting period to begin getting divorced spouse benefits after the divorce.

  62. This may have been answered above, and if so I am sorry to repeat! I will be 62 in October. My ex is 65. If I apply for (half) his benefits now, can I then switch over and collect my own full amount at age 70?

    1. When you apply for benefits, you will receive the highest benefit for which you qualify, so if your own benefit exceeds the divorced spouse benefit, you will receive your own benefit, reduced because you began collecting before full retirement age 66.

  63. Olivia Elizondo

    I am 70 years old my husband is 8 years younger I have received disability benefits since 1996 a few years ago it was switched to straight ss benefits my question to you is, at the age of 66 could i have applied under my husband even though he was under the age of 62. I was told I could from a financial adviser and it would have been a good increase and that social security owes me back pay. Could you tell me if financial adviser is correct?

  64. I was married for almost 48 yrs minus 5 days. I was drawing his social security at age 62. I plan on marrying in June. Will I be able to draw my new husbands social security bc it is higher right away? He is already drawing social security. Thank you

  65. Bobbie Kinberg

    My first husband recently died. He was 63. He started collecting his Social Security at 62. I am divorced from my second husband who I was married to for 10 years and 11 months. My first husband I was married for 17 years. What I want to know is can I collect my 71% widow’s benefits from my first husband on his full Social Security amount or will I only be able to collect 71% on what he was receiving at age 62 which was a reduced amount. I am 60 years old. Thank you.

  66. Hello Ms. Wall, I have a question in reference to benefits for a divorced person. I was married for 26 years. My ex husband started his ss benefits when he turned 62. I am still working and will be 62 this summer. I would like to apply for benefits and claim 1/2 of my ex husband’s social security when I turn 66. When I turn 70, I would like to switch over to my full benefit and draw the maximum amount on my own work record. This is the question. When I turn 66, the benefit I could draw on my own account is actually more than 1/2 of his benefit; however is it possible that I can choose to draw on his even though the benefit is a little lower and then draw the maximum on mine when I turn 70. Does that make sense? Thank you so much for your reply back to me.

  67. Carmen Quezada

    I have a question I hope you will be able to answe me. I have Calpers retirement, I would like to retire when I turn 60 year with Calpers. I have worked in California since 1976, I have 40 years paying social security. If I stop working at the age of 60, will that reduce my social security benefits ? I’m planing to start collecting SS at full retirement age. Will I get penalized for stop working. Thank you

    1. Social security is based on your highest 35 years of social security earnings. So if you stop working early those remaining years that you could have been working won’t count toward those 35 years of earnings, and your benefits could be reduced slightly from what social security projected on your estimate of benefits.

      1. Gineta, thank you for your quick answer. My benefits will be reduce slightly because I won’t be able to replace some of my lowest pay with a higher salary? Or those years that I didn’t work will be replace with zero earnings? Again, thank you for your help.

        1. That’s right. If you have your 35 years of earnings for social security, working several more years would have allowed you to replace lower-pay years with higher-pay years. If you do not have your 35 years of earnings, then leaving the workforce now you will not have the opportunity to replace some of those zero years with years for which you have earnings.

  68. First, thank you for helping with these questions…

    I had a 10 year first marriage that ended in divorce..
    I remarried at 45 and was widowed at 54. Not married now.
    Everything I read including the SS Publication says that if my 2nd marriage ended due to
    death, divorce or annulment that I am able to consider my first husbands benefits and his surviving spouse
    benefit should he die. First husband was a very high earner so this question is important to my retirement plans.
    I have talked to 2 different SS Agents that are adamant that my 2nd marriage before 60
    disqualifies me from my first marriage benefits. They said the “unmarried” qualification means
    never remarried. I asked what the phrase “unless marriage ends due to death,divorce or annulment ” meant and the lady got mad and she was done explaining and would not let me speak with a supervisor to get my answer.
    I cannot be the only one with this situation but it feels like that right now.
    Please help me know the right answer and if I can draw on husband # 1 how do I convince SS .

    1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

      You are right. They are wrong. Here is what the Social Security policy manual says:

      RS 00202.046 Entitlement of a Divorced Spouse After Termination of Subsequent Marriage – Policy

      The divorced spouse can be entitled or re-entitled to benefits if he or she was divorced from the NH and remarried but the later marriage terminated, provided the other requirements for entitlement are met.

  69. I am 68, married for 10 years and divorced 20 years ago, and considering remarriage to a man who is 66. I am not drawing social security, though I did apply to file and suspend just before April 30, 2016, when that option became unavailable. Social security has asked me if I would like to start collecting based on my ex-husband’s record. He is 62, and SSA told me I could be getting half his full retirement amount. I know that if I do so, and then marry my 2nd husband, I will no longer be able to collect on my ex-husband’s record . . . but two other issues arise, based on future possibilities: 1. When I remarry, does SSA require that I then begin drawing payments based on my own earnings records? Or will SSA require that I switch to my new husband’s account (half of which will be slightly higher than my full amount right now)? My intention is to keep my own payments suspended in order to let my own account continue to gain value 2. If I remarry and switch to my 2nd husband’s account, and then happen to get divorced, will SSA require that my future payments still be based on my 2nd husband’s account? Or, if my own account would be worth more, will they allow me to switch back to my own at age 70 (when my own payment will be slightly higher than half my 2nd husband’s would be today).

    1. I know this is a complicated issue, and the SSA person I am working with told me today that they need my answer by next Tuesday! So if you see this and have time, I would be so happy to get your opinion! Thanks!

    2. If you file for benefits based on your former spouse’s history, when you remarry you can switch over to your current spouse’s history without waiting a year after the marriage, assuming that he is either collecting or has filed and suspended. If you then divorced, you could continue collecting based on his history without waiting two years after the divorce is final. At age 70 you can switch to your own benefits. Check with social security to be sure this is the way it would work. I’m a little unsure as to why you filed and suspended, since you don’t have a spouse who wants to collect on your earnings history, but I don’t think that it does any harm.

  70. I am so happy to find this site. I was married for 24 years and am now divorced. I am nearly 58 years old. I would like to remarry my new partner (he was also married for more than 20 years and is now divorced). However, we cannot figure out the SS consequences. Both men–my ex-husband and my new partner–have been well-paid, life-long employees/workers and I believe they have both therefore “maxed out” on the amount their SS benefit will be when they each decide to collect. How many years would I need to be re-married to receive benefits through my new spouse (if we married)? Does it make financial sense to marry him (in terms of SS benefits)? And is it dumb to remarry before age 60–i’m now aware of a widow’s benefit that I would be eligible for if my first husband dies (i do not want him to die, but I also don’t want to be stupid). It seems that a widow’s benefit (even for a divorced spouse who remarries after 60) is worth 100% of the former spouse’s benefits…. I am so completely confused and don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to remarry and then have something happen to my new husband and I’m left without anyone’s benefits, or worse benefits than I would have gotten had I stayed single and just lived together with my new partner. I hope this makes sense. Thanks so much.

    1. You must be married one year and be of retirement age to collect spousal benefits based on your new husband’s earnings history. If your marriage ends in death of your new spouse, you could collect widow’s benefits based on his earnings history or on your ex’s earnings history, whichever is greater. If you waited to remarry until age 60, when your ex died you could collect widow benefits based on his earnings history, even though you are still married to your new husband.

      1. Thanks so much for your quick reply.
        Can you please clarify the following for me, if possible:
        If both my ex and the man I’m thinking of marrying have been working steadily for the last 35 years (with good salaries), would they have each max’d out by now on the amount of SS they will receive? Would each be eligible for the same maximum amount allowed? I’m wondering if I would receive the same amount of SS if I married and collected through my new husband or if i did not marry and collected through my ex (I know I am entitled to an amount equal to half of what each will get).
        Also, if I wait until 60 to marry and my first husband dies (in which case I would be eligible for widow benefits) do i get both widow benefits from my ex AND SS through a new husband? or is it one or the other (I’m guessing it is the latter)? It is very uncomfortable to ask such questions, but i feel they must be asked in order to make the right life decisions.
        It seems prudent to not marry until age 60. That way, in the event my former spouse dies, I would collect widow benefits until I decide to collect SS through my new husband when I turn 66 and a half. Does that make sense? Is that best way to proceed?
        Also, I cannot figure out how to edit my first question to you in order to remove my last name from my post. Can you either delete that post from me, or tell me how to edit my last name out? I’d really appreciate it.
        Thanks again.

      2. I am so happy to find this site. I was married for 24 years and am now divorced. I am nearly 58 years old. I would like to remarry my new partner (he was also married for more than 20 years and is now divorced). However, we cannot figure out the SS consequences. Both men–my ex-husband and my new partner–have been well-paid, life-long employees/workers and I believe they have both therefore “maxed out” on the amount their SS benefit will be when they each decide to collect. How many years would I need to be re-married to receive benefits through my new spouse (if we married)? Does it make financial sense to marry him (in terms of SS benefits)? And is it dumb to remarry before age 60–i’m now aware of a widow’s benefit that I would be eligible for if my first husband dies (i do not want him to die, but I also don’t want to be stupid). It seems that a widow’s benefit (even for a divorced spouse who remarries after 60) is worth 100% of the former spouse’s benefits…. I am so completely confused and don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to remarry and then have something happen to my new husband and I’m left without anyone’s benefits, or worse benefits than I would have gotten had I stayed single and just lived together with my new partner. I hope this makes sense. Thanks so much.

  71. I was planning on taking my social security benefits at age 62, which is in about 4 months…I was married for 31 years and got a divorce about 6 years ago… My wife worked for 5 years early in our marriage and then was a stay at home mom.. she remarried about 5 years ago and started back teaching school making an income for the last 5 years….My question is can i receive benefits on her whole working career or just for the time we were married and can I collect those at 62 along with my benefits…Thank You

  72. I will be 52yrs in July. On ss disability, based on my own income, (which is below poverty) due to serious brain disorder,for last 5yrs. Years ago, I was married, (to a man who is still earning a very decent income) for 13yrs, then divorced, and then remarried for 5yrs, and divorced. Should I be receiving disability based on my own income now, or that of my 1st marriage? Or should I wait until I’m of a certain age to claim anything (disability or reg. SS) from my first marriage? Your help would be appreciated more than ever. Thank you!

    1. Make sure that the Social Security people know all the circumstances of your marriages (dates married and divorced) so they can pay you the highest benefit possible. You are probably getting that already, but check with them to be sure that they have all the pertinent facts.

  73. I am 33, I was married to my husband until 2007, when he passed away. We have two children together. I currently receive survivor benefits for myself and our two children. I have not remarried, but would like to. If I remarry would I lose my portion of my benefits or would it just be allocated to our two children? I have seen conflicting things, one thing says I would lose it, the other thing I saw said that it would be split between the two kids. Which is right?

    1. If the benefit payments are limited by the family maximum amount, then you not receiving payments will increase the amount that is allocable to the children. You can ask Social Security whether that it true in your case.

  74. I elected to receive early retirement at age 62. I have been married three times (sorry to say). The first husband just retired at age 65 and we were married for ten years, and he never remarried. My second and third husband are deceased, and neither marriage lasted ten years. Do I have any rights to his social security benefits without affecting the money he now receives.

    1. It is unclear from your post whether any of your marriages ended in death rather than divorce. If so, you are entitled to receive widow’s benefits based on that spouse, or your own benefits, whichever is higher. Or you can receive divorced spouse benefits based on Husband #1, if that gives you a higher benefit than you are now getting. What you receive will not affect what he gets.

  75. I have a question…. and can never seem to get a straight answer. My husband and I were married for 4 years before he passed away. At the time of his death, he was receiving SSI – about $2000.00 a month. I am turning 60 in a few months and am wondering if I am entitled to any of his benefits since I am planning on continuing to work in a job where I make about 38,000.00 to 40,000.00 a year. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Since you are not yet full retirement age (66+), your benefit will be reduced to 71.5% of what he could collect. So if he was collecting $2000, your benefit would be about $1400. It would further be reduced by $1 for each $2 you earn over $15,720 per year. So if you earn $40,000 a year, you’ll lose about $1000 a month in benefits. So you’d end up with only $400 per month until you stopped working, and then get only $1400 a month after that, compared to the full $2000 you could receive if you waited until age 66 to collect.

  76. What if you are collecting Spousal Benefits and then get a Divorce? Do you lose your spousal benefits from SS?
    Both husband and I are at FRA and he is collecting his SS benefits, and I had filed a Restricted Application and now collect spousal benefits and have delayed my own benefits so that they can grow another couple of years until I retire. I may be getting a divorce by years end and wondered if spousal benefits would continue.

    1. Since you are receiving spousal benefits based on his earnings history, those should covert over to divorced spouse benefits. There would be a waiting period after the divorce is final if you weren’t currently receiving benefits, but since you are, I believe that your monthly checks will continue, just be called divorced spouse benefits instead of spousal benefits.

  77. I started my social security at age 62, my husband started his at age 66. If he dies before me will I be able to get his full Social Security.
    I am currently 67

  78. I was married for 39 years and my husband passed away he was 69 and drawing his Social Security I was 56 when he passed away. I remarried two years ago and my new husband did not want me to work so I quit my Job. We have been married for almost two years. I am now 60. My husband now wants a Divorce from me. If we do Divorce. When the Divorce is final can I apply for Widow’s benefits? I have no income.

  79. I am 54 and my ex husband is 56 I am on disability and have been for 5 years, when can I collect on his SSI since his will be higher than mine?

  80. I have never worked I stayed home and raised my children. I was married for over ten years and now divorced. Because I have never worked can I still collect on my exs social security and I do I need to be 62 or 66?

  81. I’m divorced after 30 years of marriage. I’ve never remarried and will turn 62, two weeks after my ex. He turns 62 this June 14th.

    Can I opt to take SS divorced-spouse benefits based on his earnings while letting my own account grow until I’m 70? By delaying benefits from my account they’ll grow approximately 8% a year for eight years.

    He’s made far more than me but the earnings cap will likely negate the difference. If I opt to take half of his rate at 62, or an early retirement divorced spouse rate, can I take my full retirement rate at 70 by switching to my benefits then?

    Thanks for your help,
    Diane

    1. If you take benefits at age 62, your benefits will be reduced for life because you took them early. Since you were born after 1/2/54 or later, you cannot choose which benefit to take — the new law requires you to take whatever benefit is higher.

  82. I’m trying to decide the most advantageous time to start taking SS benefits. I am 63, divorced after over 20 years of marriage and have not remarried, so I know I’m eligible to receive half my ex’s benefit. However, I was a teacher for 20 years and am receiving a pension from my state teachers’ retirement fund. My understanding is that if I wait until I’m 66, I can receive the highest amount by taking the derivative benefit (my ex’s salary was always significantly higher than mine) then switch to receiving my benefit at age 70. Is that correct?

    1. Your divorced spousal benefits will be offset by 2/3 of your teacher’s pension, if you were not covered under social security system during the time you were teaching. If you were covered under social security, then you can file for restricted benefits at age 66 and take divorced spouse benefits, letting your own benefits grow until age 70.

      1. Thanks for your response. I had social security earnings at a job prior to teaching but not during the years I taught. How does that impact my benefits situation?

  83. I will be 66 in August. I plan on filing a restricted claim for ex spousal benefits May 1, 2016. I do plan to remarry sometime following the initiation of my spousal benefit. (Thank you for clarifying that I will not have the 12 month waiting period). My partner is 68 and also divorced, and plans to continue working until age 70. He just filed a claim for restricted benefits on his ex spouse’s record today. Because we are not married, he did not file and suspend. When we do marry, it is likely that he will not be 70 yet, so not claiming on his own record. Will I still be able to switch my benefit to his record even though he has only filed a restricted claim? Thank you for your work.

  84. I am 66 and plan on working until age 68. I was married for 17 years to Spouse #1 (who had a higher earnings record than mine), divorced him, remarried in 2012 (at my age 62) to Spouse #2 (who had a smaller earnings record than mine). I stopped in to the Social Security office and gave them all the specifics. They looked us all up and said under the “new law” I am entitled to spousal benefits (under Spouse #1) even though I am remarried and both Spouse #1 and Spouse #2 are living. Was I given bad advice?

  85. Hello,

    A friend is turning 66 on May 30, 2016. She is self-employed and is planning on delaying SS until she turns 70.

    She is divorced, was married for 20+ years, and did not remarry. Her ex-husband is 68, retired, and earned more than she did.

    I want to tell her of the 50% of her ex-husbands benefit to which she is entitled, however, the new rules, heck, even the old rules make deciding what course to pursue rather unclear. Moreover, online advice seems spotty as everyone attempts to determine the implications of the rules changes. One advisor has even suggested that file and suspend may be available even for those who, like my friend, turn 66 before September 2016, but after April 29, relying on the 4-month legislative rule. SS’s latest guidelines even SEEM to hint at this. Or not.

    I do not want to give my friend inaccurate guidance. Nor do I want her to go to SS without a solid grasp of these complexities to be left depending on the iffy knowledge and training of SS personnel, good intentions though they usually have.

    May I ask what my friend should do? Had it yet been determined whether people in her situation, assuming she takes action by April 29, may file and suspend, and collect the 50% spousal benefit until 70?

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing; I want to give her the best possible recommendation.

    Thank you so very much

    1. To collect her divorced spouse benefit instead of her own, she will file a restricted claim once she reaches full retirement age. That will allow her to get divorced spouse benefits and let her own benefits be enhanced at 8% per year until she is age 70, at which point she can switch over to her own benefits. She can do this because she was at least 62 by the end of 2015. There is nothing she needs to do by April 29. She will not file and suspend, because those rules are for someone who wants to delay her own benefit while still entitling a spouse to collect spousal benefits.

  86. Why are my divorced spousal benefits only $2.10. I turned 62 Jan. 30. How is this calculated? Is this the new law? Married 25 years and did not pay into S.S for most of those years because i was raising children. Seems unfair.

    1. There is no new law that would affect the calculation of spousal benefits. You can ask Social Security to let you know how they computed those benefits. Perhaps he worked in jobs that were under systems other than social security.

  87. I am 60 and on SSDI. I was married over 10 yrs and am divorced and single. My ex husband is the same age and is still working. He told me if he retires at age 62, he would get $1800 a month which would entitle me to 1/2 that amount. If he waits until 66 to retire, that amount would be considerably higher, meaning my 1/2 would also be greater. I’ve called Social Security four times and asked them what I should do at age 62 and received 4 different answers. I assume that I would continue collecting SSDI until age 66 and it would then convert over to my ex husbands, which is a lot more than what my SS would have been. My question to them and to you is – Do I need to call Social Security at age 62 or do I just continue on SSDI until age 66 when it would simply convert over to my ex husbands SS?

    1. It is my understanding that you would collect SSDI until you are age 66. But just to be safe, when you are 62 you should contact Social Security and ask them that question. The rules are subject to change, and you want to be sure you get your full benefits.

  88. QUESTION:
    I was married Nov. 04, 1994. My husband had worked different places, but had to apply for Soc Sec Disability in 1996 I believe.
    Recently, I was put on SSD.
    So I need someone to “dumb it down for me”.
    If he gets MORE SSD , am I supposed to be given money based on HIS SSD if he gets more than me?

  89. Also, I am 57 now recieved my divorce in 2002 after 20 years of marriage . I also want to know when I recive my half of his Pension and decide to remarry will I lose his Pension and will I still get half of his SS ? I know it states in my settlement agreement if I remarried ill lose my alimony . Alimony is different from receiving half his Pension . So if I should re-marry after 62 will I lose anything ?

    1. The pension was likely awarded to you as property and is not affected by your marital status. Generally alimony will cease upon your remarriage. If you remarry, you will receive your own social security or spousal benefits based on your new husband’s earnings history, not your former husband’s earnings history.

  90. He is employed with the United State Army base but not in the military . I also receive alimony and don’t get a raise each year . I had to add an extension about the spousal annuity support if something should happen to him . I also want to know if he should lose his job will I still receive half his pension . And be protected by the Gov’t to still collect .

    1. If you were awarded a portion of his retirement, then you will get that at the point at which he can collect. If it is reduced or eliminated because he loses his job, your portion will be reduced or eliminated as well.

  91. I was married for 20 years and got a divorce.My ex husband work for the Govt . In my settlement agreement papers it states I get half of my exhusband pension . I was disable when we got a divorce . I only recive $700.00 and $609.00 after they pay A & b part of my social security disability benefits. My question is will I get also half of his social security benefits when he retires. I’m thinking he will retire at age 64 I’m not sure yet . Above as you see I guess I should keep my own and collect on the half portion of his when I turn 67 or a little earlier to get the maximum 50 percent ? Also am I entitled to get half of his SS benefits . Will he also have to share his portion with his new wife and this want effect my half at all . Also, he has changed his life insurance package from his job to lessen the amout to have to pay out of his check because Govt up his amount to pay . And wasn’t I suppose to be notified of anything that goes on behind my back . This has a gold seal that I sent to them from the court from the judge they have . Most important will I get half of his SS along with his Pension .

    1. If you are getting Social Security disability, once you are age 62 or older, that will convert to Social Security retirement at the point that your retirement benefits are greater than the disability benefits. What you get and when you get it are independent of when your former spouse retires or his marital status. If he is not doing what the court ordered him to do, you may need to take legal action to force compliance.

  92. I am 66 yrs old and divorced from my 62 year old ex-husband. I was married to him for 20 years and we’ve been divorced for 7 years. I fully qualify for es-spouse social security benefits on his work record. I went to the local social security office and filed a restricted application for his benefits with the plan to switch to my own when I turn 70. I presented marriage and divorce records and his social security number to access his records. The clerk told me I had to present his original birth certificate or they would have to call him to very his date of birth. I do not want him to know I plan to collect under his record because he wants to reduce his alimony payments by the amount of social security I receive when I start collecting. He thinks this will be when I turn 70 so I do not want him to be aware of my strategy. From all my research I do not find anywhere that I have the burden of presenting his birth certificate – what ex spouse would have that? I believe the local SS office has misinterpreted the regulations. Can you tell me if this is accurate? I was told by someone else that they can verify his date of birth in their system with his SS number. Please inform me. Thank you very much.

  93. 1. Divorced and was married over ten year. I quakify for 1/2 of ex-spouse social security benefits. Correct?
    2. When I apply for it, what happens when he dies?
    I think there is ex-spouse surviving benefits. Will that be 1/2 as well?

    1. If you were married for at least 10 years and are currently single, you are eligible for divorced spouse benefits which are the equivalent of 1/2 of what he is entitled to receive. Upon his death, you would received surviving divorced spouse benefits, which are the equivalent of 100% of what he is eligible to receive.

  94. I’m 59 years old, was married for nearly 20 and divorced for 18 years. I’ve been on SSD since 2000. My ex hubby starting recieving SS almost 2 years ago. My SS payment and small pension are at near poverty level. Can i collect any additional SS on his? Or do i have to wait until I’m 62. Thank you so much in advance.

      1. Will my Social Sec6rity Disabilty automaticall change to regular SSA once i tuen 62, then get an additional 50% of my ex hubbys SSA and the pension I’m recieving through pers? From when i was working through the bd of ed for 12 years?

        1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

          When you reach full retirement age your disability payments will convert to retirement benefits. If your divorced spouse benefits exceed that amount, you will receive divorced spouse benefits instead of your own. But in either case, your social security retirement benefits will be reduced by 2/3 of your PERS under the government pension offset provisions (GPO)

  95. My mother (71) was married to my father (71) from 1970 – 1982. He is remarried to another woman for 30 years. She remarried for about 9 years but just got divorced. I had her call ss to find out if her social security can be based off the first husbands $ instead of hers because I thought his would be larger. The person at social security told me she needed his ss number. I called him and he refused. I think he is being spiteful or just really thinks that it will affect his payment (he gets a pension from the new york police dept). I thought that they would be able to find his information without her needing his ss number and if she does go forward isn’t it anonymous? If he finds out he will be really pissed off and she doesn’t really want to screw him or his current wife. He is a retired NYPD officer so might not even get that much when they deduct the tax free pension part from the social security part but he has been in the private sector for about 30 years now. I’m sure there are other ways for me to find his SS number but would it be worth it? Thanks.

    1. Does she have any records from back then that would give his social security number, such as a bank account or credit card application, tax return, W-2 or 1099 form? If not, call social security again and say that you have made every attempt to locate his social security number, so what information do they need to identify him without that number (e.g., his name, date of birth, address, etc). With that information, even if his name is John Smith, it should be easy for them to identify which John Smith he is with certainty.

      1. Thanks. She doesn’t have anything. She was going to throw away the divorce papers last year and I told her to hang onto them! I guess he thinks that any payment she gets is going to affect his and his current wife’s payments.

  96. I am in my mid-50s and was married for 30 years. My ex is in his late 60s. I spent many years raising a family so there is no way my SS payments will ever catch up. He now receives approximately $2000 a month. I understand that I will eventually be entitled to 50% of that.

    I at first, was under the impression that I would receive this 50% benefit at AGE 62. BUT when I read the Social Security website, it says I would be eligible for that IF I wait until FULL RETIREMENT AGE. I understand that is age 66.

    So, does this mean if I filed at age 62, that I would have a reduced benefit, not the full 50%??

  97. maybe someone could please help me or point away for me to go. i applied for social security and will start collecting this coming march. i tried to start collecting off of my ex husbands social security, but the lady i talk to told me since we were not married 10 yrs there is nothing i can do. our divorce became final in Oct. and we could of been married 10 yrs in Nov. so i fall a month short of the 10 yr mark. i asked the lady if it would make a diff. if we lived common law for 6 months before we were married. and she told me that the federal goverment does not recognize common law marriages. i just dont think its very fair that i cannot collect from his because there is a one month gap in the 10 yr thing. is there anything i can do or say or something that will change that.? if anyone one could help me Please

    1. You were given erroneous information by Social Security personnel. Common law spouses and former common law spouses can be eligible for Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s earnings record if their states’ common law marriage requirements are met. States that allow for the formation of common law marriages are Alabama, Colorado, D.C., Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah (if validated by a court order).

      1. thank you for answering me. we were married in arizona in 1973 , we lived our whole married life in new jersey. thats were we were divorced in 1982. that lady i talk to from social security told me that they do not reconize common law marriages. we lived together for about 1 yr before we married. but that is what she told me they do not reconize common law marriages. so instead of getting a portion of what my ex husband made. ill only be getting like 280 dollars. cause i was the dummy that stayed home and took care of our 4 daughters . thank you anyway for your info. it was much appreciated. thank you again.

  98. Hi Mrs.Wall I lost my job in 2013 I had unemployment til the fed. Gov. Stopped the extended unemployment I collected for 8 months.I applied for jobs everywhere,worked in health care 38 years,I was at the top of pay scale,and older women,59 yo at the time.So no unemployment no job,I found out that I could collect survivor benefits from my ex.deceased spouse starting at 60,Had to do it as I had no income,I pretty much lost everything I had,I only get $1153 a month,On my social security page my est. of earnings said I would get $1,350 at 66,the lady at social security told me to wait til 70 and it would grow,how does it grow if you are not working? Anyway now on my social security page it does not have my est. anymore it says n/a
    Does this mean I am now stuck with keeping what I have forever?All those years I worked and I get nothing?I am asking you because I have had different info and wrong info FROM SS What I get from my ex is from his SS disability as he was dying of cancer,he collected for a year then died.Does my work for 38 years mean nothing? Thank You for any info you can give me

    1. If you delay collecting your own benefits until age 70, they increase at approx 8% per year. I don’t know why your report says n/a, when it used to give a number. That may be becuase you are collecting surviving divorced spouse benefits now, so they decline to show a figure there.

  99. Pingback: Are You Taxed On Your Social Security Benefits | Best GE Home Security

    1. I live in Oklahoma – was married 1978-1988 – 10 yrs and 2 months before I got divorceed –
      Have never re-married and will probably retire when I’m 65 or 66. My question is will I be
      entitled to any of my Ex-Husbands Social Security retirement or disability benefits? He has remarried will probably retire before. Please let me know and Thank you

      1. When you reach social security age, you will be able to collect your own social security retirement benefits or divorced spouse benefits, whichever is higher. It is likely that your own benefits will be higher, but social security will figure it out and pay you whichever is greater.

  100. My first husband is decease marry to him for 12 years remarry fo 10 years to second husband now divorce I’m on social security disability can I still get survior benefit from husband 1 & 2 I’m 53 years old and if so at what age can I recieve and about what percent thank you

    1. At full retirement age of 66+ you can get surviving divorced spouse benefits on #1 or divorced spouse benefits on #2 or your own benefits, whichever is greater. You can collect reduced surviving divorced spouse benefits as early as age 60 (if they exceed your disability benefits) or divorced spouse benefits or your own benefits as early as age 62 (again, if they exceed your disability benefits).

  101. I am currently employed and am 57 my ex-spouse just turned 62 and may be on Social Security disability and we were married for 28 years. If I was to get laid off from current job could I get Social Security monies from the ex if unemployed/ We have been divorced since 2006 and I have not re-married. I am guessing that he can get SS disability amount until he reaches 66 and then he would get full Social Security amounts once he reaches 66. Or would he get full SS amount currently if he claimed early retirement vs SS disability (guessing the full SS amount would be greater than disability amount?). At time of divorce he was making significantly more than myself. There is a pretty good possibility that I could qualify for SS disability (I got it for a 18 mths in the 90/s) myself so that may be in my near future if things don’t improve. What are the differences in amounts ( for ex spouses) between SS disability and regular SS retirements? And what would ex-spouse benefits be under disability vs regular SS retirement benefits? Any help appreciated.

    1. If he has the ability to pay support and the laws of your state allow it, you probably can collect alimony based on his income. As for disability payments vs retirement payments, you’ll have to get those computations from Social Security.

  102. Hi, this question is for my sister-n-law, she is 55 and on SSD. Her husband who was 67, just passed away and had been drawing SS for a few years. Can she draw her SSD and on her deceased husbands SS? Will she lose the one that is the lesser amount or draw both?

    And if you don’t mind, a question for my mother. She was married twice with both marriages being over 10 years. Can she draw off either husband? The first is still alive and started drawing SS at first eligible age and the second husband is decreased. She is unmarried.

    Thanks for your help,
    Janice

  103. This question is for my Mom, she has been collecting SS since age 68 and she is now 72. She just learned that it is possible that she could collect ss from my dad (her ex-husband, they were married over 10 years). he is also 72 and have been collecting SS since he was 68. Can she collect anything extra from his SS or can she only collect from hers or his SS benefit, whichever is greater?

  104. My spouse died at the age of 50 and I won’t be able to collect widow social security until I turn 60. My question is will I be allowed to collect on his SS at the age of 60 and continue to work? If I can continue to work, I would wait until I turned 70 to collect on my SS.

    1. The way things are going with law changes, you’ll probably have to collect the highest benefit available to you. Also, social security benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over a threshold of about $15,000, so collecting early may not benefit you.

  105. Can Social Security require that I prove my ex-husband’s age in order to process my claim for ex-spouse benefits?

    The case worker here where I live is telling me that I either have to obtain my ex-husband’s birth certificate (which I can’t without committing fraud because he was born in a “closed-record” state) or else my ex-husband has to talk to Social Security on the phone to tell them his birth date!

    Good grief.

    Social Security is going to deny my claim because I am not willing to commit fraud and I have no control over what my ex-husband will or won’t do!

  106. If my ex was a police officer and I am now collecting part of his pension due to a QDRO, will this affect my social security or will it affect what I can collect on his? He retired at 50 and has been paying social security taxes before and after becoming a police officer

    1. What i meant to say was he worked and payed ss before he was a police officer and now is working and paying ss taxes again. he paid none during his time as a police officer

  107. Wanting to draw at the age of 62 off my husbands benefits..but if my husband passes will I get full widow benefits or will they be reduced or will I get nothing at all .or should I draw from myself then if something happen that he dies would I get widow benefits then.confused please help.Thanks!

    1. If you become a widow, you can receive widow benefits since you will be a widow, which are equal to 100% of what he would get if he had lived. That is true even if you drew reduced benefits at age 62 on your own record or spousal benefits.

  108. Hello,
    Going to retire at age 62 and try to draw from my husband benefits ,if he dies after age 66 can I collect full widows benefits? At a lower rate? or not at all?

  109. I w/b FRA mid 2016. Ex-spouse w/b FRA in Jan 2021 and still employed. Married 30 yrs. w/b divorced 2 yrs. mid 2017. Will not file for SS before mid 2017.
    My current estimated FRA benefit is under $1000/mo. “My” estimate of ex-spouses full FRA benefit is $3,000+, making my benefit on ex-spouses record, $1500 (achieved by ss combining both benefits).
    Since SS will use the ex-spouse’s “estimated” FRA benefit to determine my divorced spouse benefit, will my benefit be adjusted, annually as the ex-spouses FRA benefits increase due to employment, until the actual FRA benefit is achieved? I’m aware that income earned by ex-spouses beyond their FRA, is not included in divorced spouse benefits.
    I have not been able to locate an answer to this question on the net or by calling SS.
    Hopeful that you have the answer.

    1. Yes, if he continues to work, it is possible that his benefits will increase each year, and so will your derivative benefits based on his earnings record. This will be true if his current earnings are higher than any of the 35 years of employment that they use to figure his benefits.

  110. First, thank you for all you do, Ginita. My question is if my ex dies (we’ve been divorced for 10+ yrs) and (we were married for 15 years) I have not remarried, would I be entitled to the surviving widows ss benefit based on his earning record and is it 100% of what his ss benefit is? We both made a lot of money, but he always made more than I. He is remarried, so if he dies while still married to her, would both her and I be entitled to a 100% surviving widow benefit? Thanks, Deb

  111. I’m 57 and have been drawing disability since 2004. My husband and I were married for 21 years when he passed away at age 72 on August 2, 2015. After deductions I get $1145.50 a month. I called SS on August 7, 2015 and let them know he had died. I made an appt with SS and took them a copy of marriage and death certificate. I am receiving $598.00 from his SSI plus what I draw from SSD. My question is, since he died August 2, isn’t he owed a check for July?

  112. I am 59 and was married for 16 years my husband is 61. Currently divorced…I am getting married next year (will be 60). If my first husband dies, can I collect social security widowers benfits from him? Or does my second husband have to also die to collect benefits. Do I loose the option to get widows benefits if I get married before my first husband dies? Thank y ou

    1. Be sure to wait until you are 60 to marry again. If you marry at age 60 or older, you’ll still be eligible to collect surviving divorced spouse benefits based on your prior spouse’s earnings history under Social Security.

      1. I was married for 20 years and divorced. I’m 58. I’m thinking of marrying again. My ex is still alive. If I wait to marry at 60 could I get SS from my ex? He has a larger income.

  113. Olivia (Ollie Eades

    I retirement at the age of 62, My husband and I has been separated for 43 years I don’t understand why you would give him 500.00 of my Social security check. I live in N.Y and he lives in Ala.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean. If your spouse collects spousal benefits, it doesn’t reduce what you get, so I’m not giving him $500 from your social security check. Matter of fact, I don’t have any control over your check, you do.

  114. Hi, Ginita – I made the mistake of posting on Jeanne-October 31, 2014. There you will find two of my post to you for October 8, 2015. I’m new to all this including computers. I finally started getting the hand of it at 64 i’m now 65. Thank you for helping so many wives and widowers etc. It should also help a few good men to no how to plan in advance for their wives future.

    1. hello, what would be some reasons why a person would wait until 70 years old to retire also what are the advantages as oppose to retiring at age 66, 67, 68.

  115. I am a 61 yr old widow, my husband was five years younger. Do I wait until I am 62 and file for my SS. And wait until full retirement age to file for his, since his would be the larger? I am not sure as a widow what to do. I am also a caregiver to my 40 yr old son from an auto accident, with no help from the State to stay homecand care for him. He is completely disabled. But Inthink I got off track here,, what am Insupposed to be doing SS wise now thst Inam a widow at 61 ?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. If you begin collecting before age 66, your benefit will be reduced, whether it is widows benefits or your own benefits. But you should begin collecting now if you need the money. So if you decide to begin collecting now, you should collect whatever benefit will give you the highest amount, and it sounds as though that’s the widows benefit. Talk to Social Security about whether you being a caregiver for your disabled child means your benefit won’t be reduced for early commencement.

  116. Hi Ginita, I am grateful for the different articles you have written on various sites. I have a question/issue.
    I am divorced after 20 years of marriage, and worked for 15 years as a teacher in a district that didn’t pay into SSA. I did move to a new location from 2007-2013 where I did pay into SS as a teacher/state employee, and I only have around 10-11 years of total SS pay, which normally means the GPO offset would reduce my SS survivor benefits when I claim them someday.

    I read this exemption on the SSA website and wondered if it really does apply toward me since my last 6+ years of working for the state, I paid into SS.

    Exemption: “you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during the last 60 months of government service. ”

    Thanks for your time.

  117. Thank you for your time. I have another question. When I filed for divorce in another country. My attorney said she sent the divorce documents to be filed in California. Shouldn’t they be found in the Archives record center? Another question. Can I collect under my ex SS? I am separated but not divorce I am 61 yrs and my ex 63 yrs also remarried.

  118. I married in Calif. 1976 Then filed for divorce 1992 in another country after being married 14 yrs . I lost all my documents and have no case #. I now returned to Calif. Because I want a copy of my divorce but Superior Court. Record Ctr. Told me they can not fine any divorce judgement . Record dept. checked 1991 thru 1997 could it be that the divorce papers were not filed correctly and there for we are not divorced?
    We both remarried 14 yrs ago. Does it mean we are not legally remarried? My divorced was because of physical violence and he never gave me alimony nor child support for my 3 children, then 3 yr, 8yr and 12 yr old. Left me with medical health problems because of his domestic violence. He now owns a home, has a 401k ( that was when we were together) he spend all our savings on women and friend. Is this a blessing I disguise for me to get half of his assets. He left me with a disabilty but according to S.S. It is not considered disability but this has ruin my chance of ever getting a job that I worked before. I have never again been able to get a permanent job. I have not worked very much. I have no money for an attorney and now I separated from my second marriage who,lives in another country who has never worked in the USA.

    1. If you were divorced in another country, the California Superior Court wouldn’t have a record of granting you that divorce, since you didn’t file for divorce there, you filed in another country. So to get a copy of your divorce documents, you would have to apply to the court where you were divorced, not where you were married.

  119. My husband is 60 and retired. He receives a city pension. I’m 15 years younger. Will my Social Security benefit based on my work be affected if he passes and I receive his city pension?

  120. My question is if i started to collect retirement benefits at the age of 62 and now i’m 73. My husband is deceased and he would of been 60. My question is can i collect widows benenfits atthe same time as retirement benefits?

  121. Good Evening,

    I am the surviving spouse of a soldier. My husband had an ex-spouse that he married and divorced twice. I believe each time length could have totaled maybe 10 years together, but not 10 consecutive years. Would the ex spouse still be able to collect my husband’s social security at the age of her retirement. They were not married 10 years before the last divorce before? The next question I have is… The ex-spouse called the social security office and had my benefits discontinued leaving me a debt with them because our son was his stepchild. My casualty assistance officer made sure that every thing as far as SS benefits were legit according to law. Well the ex spouse called the SSA and informed them that my son wasn’t the natural born son of my husband and my SS benefits were discontinued leaving me with this massive debt to the government. I’ve always wondered how did she have the power to do so and why did the SSA act upon a claim that wasn’t the law. Well after years of research I found out that the benefits were legit and our SS should have never been discontinued. By law SSA have the right to collect a debt, but do I have the right to restitution. I have sent claims and I got a response saying that they were going to look into the matter. I never heard from the SSA again. It’s been 10 years and I still fill that the spouse and the SSA caused such an burden upon my welfare after the lose of my spouse and I’m not settled in my spirit with the entire situation. Is there anyway that I can get restoration pay for their mistake and enacting this burden upon me falsely? Help, I want to move on and I also want what I was entitled to by law. Do I need a lawyer to recover my funds. I lost my home and business behind this unfair treatment….

    1. You are asking questions that I cannot answer, since I don’t know the details regarding social security benefits for children, or the redress rights you have against social security. It’s too bad that you didn’t stay on them about “looking into the matter.” Having waited 10 years, you’ll probably need to initiate your request again. Having an attorney do it would ensure they take you seriously, but would be costly, so you might want to try it on your own first.

      Whether his ex spouse can collect benefits doesn’t have an impact on this issue, I wouldn’t think. But just so you know, the marriage times are not aggregated unless the divorce and remarriage occurred in the same year.

  122. I filed for ss at age 62. I’m now 64. I was recently told that I could draw off of my exes earnings. Even though I’m collecting off of mine can I change to his?

    1. Social security will pay you the biggest benefit available, so perhaps you mean that they notified you that your ex-spouse’s benefit is larger than what you are getting and so they are going to switch you to your ex-spouse’s benefit. If not, ask them to determine which is bigger — they may not have information about your prior marriage.

  123. I was married to my ex-husband for 26 years, however, I re-married seven years ago. So I kind of know that I will not be able to collect my ex-husband’s Social Security. I am 57 years old, and my husband retired from the Post Office at 60, he received a supplemental along with his pension. It wasn’t until he turned 62, that he received partial Social Security. So, will I be eligible to collect off of his Social Security, rather than my own, when I reach 62 years old? He has made a lot more than I have throughout the years.
    Also, his ex-wife is not remarried and she is almost 63, still working full-time, so we are assuming she will want to collect off of his Social Security whenever she retires.
    Just to add insult to injury, I live in Maine and have worked as an Special Ed. Educational Technician for 18 years, which means…..I have had Maine State Retirement taken out, and no Social Security. So will I still be able to collect something in the way of Social Security from my husband’s when the time comes, or is that another whole different issue? I TRULY would appreciate some answers, as our Social Security Office is a nightmare. What about Medicare?? I feel like I am in trouble, or will be! Thank you! Mary

    1. When you reach retirement age, you can collect benefits based on your own earnings history or his, whichever gives you the greatest benefit. Your benefit will be reduced if you are less than full retirement age when you begin collecting social security, and will be offset by $1 for every $2 you earn over $16,000 or so if you are less than full retirement age.

      Since you have been participating in an alternate system, 2/3 of what you collect through Maine retirement will offset the benefits you could collect based on his earnings record.

      If you haven’t worked much under the social security system, you can get Medicare but will pay a higher premium than those who have been paying into the system all along.

      1. I am 68, divorced from a man I was married to much more than 10 years he started drawing ss benifits at 62. I am working and don’t draw ss benifits I could probably draw 1600 a month if I did now but I’m waiting til I’m 70. He draws approx 1650 or 1700. Could I draw off him til I’m 70

  124. I am 60 and receiving disability SSI. I am divorced but was married for more then 10yrs. He is 66 and remarried. Do I have to wait until I am 62 to see about receiving from his benefits? How will I be able to find out the amount that I will receive from his benefits? Am I able to combine my disability and his benefits? Does my disability SSI get automatically changed over to regular SS retirement when I turn 66 and does the amount I am receiving change?
    Thanks so much for this site, its a wealth of info and a real blessing!

    1. At age 62 you can get reduced social security benefits, but it is likely that your disability is greater than social security you would receive as a divorced spouse, but the social security people can tell you for sure. At full retirement age your disability will end and your social security retirement will begin. The amounts should be roughly the same, but you can ask social security to be sure.

  125. I collect disability(I’m 63). My x husband age 67(I was married to for over 10 yrs) is collecting disability from the veterans and the government. He only has a month or so to live due to cancer. Can I collect on anything at this time? or in the future after he’s deceased.

    1. You could collect divorced spouse benefits, which are equal to 50% of what he is entitled to receive, if that amount exceeds what you are currently receiving. Upon his death, you can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits, which are 100% of what he is entitled to receive in retirement benefits from social security.

  126. Please let me know what are the requirements to be entitle ss benefits on the former husband ss benefitis. I understood that the ex-wife must be the age of 62 and not re-married. Is this correct?

  127. I have been married for 35 years, but separated two years ago, and have been living from one place to another with friends because I cannot afford an attorney or a place of my own without touching our joint funds. My husband does not want a divorce and has threatened to cut me off from all support if I file. I am drawing social security and limited but growing income from my bookings as an entertainer (jazz singer) I am 65 years young. He is 65 but not drawing his social security and is still working. Can I file to draw anything from his higher social security benefits without decreasing what he will get when he eventually files? I am simply trying to support myself without his help.

  128. Hi. I am confused over the marriage issue in this respect. I was married to my first husband for over ten years, and re-married at age 62. I am now 66. Am I entitled to half of his social security (he is 67) even though I re- married? Some of your answers seem to suggest this, but on the SSA site my understanding is that only survivor benefits would apply if he (my ex) pre- deceases me. Thanks.

      1. Thanks, but I am still confused. Spousal benefits on my ex husband (even though it is only 50% of his benefit) is more than what my own benefit would be, and my current husband is only 58. So all I want to know is if I can take spousal benefits on my ex, and change later to spousal benfits on my current husbands record or survivor benefits on my ex husband if he pre deceases me. Sorry for not being clearer. You state in several posts that one can receive spousal benefits from an ex spouse if re- marrying after age 60, but the way I read it on the SSA website is that the re-marraige after 60 rule only applies to survivor benefits and not spousal. Thank you.

        1. Since you are married, you are entitled to spousal benefits based on your current spouse’s history. Since you married after age 60, you are entitled to collect surviving divorced spouse benefits on your former husband when he dies.

  129. I am dating a man who’s wife passed away last year. We have been talking about getting married, but someone told us if he remarries and he passes away, that I won’t receive his pension. They said if he remarries after he has retired that his 2nd wife is not entitled to his pension benefits. Can you tell me if this is true.

  130. Hello I wanted to ask a question my husband lived with his ex wife for over 12 yrs but was married for 3 years and divorced in 2003 can the ex wife get ss if the whole 15 years they where together but only married for 3 yrs can she still apply for his ss benifits

  131. I have a question regarding social security benefits. After only 5 years of marriage my husband and I divorced. Within 3 months we got back together. We’ve now been together almost 34 years but we never bothered to re-marry. I’m 50 he’s 58 so neither of us are receiving SS benefits, but when the time comes will I be allowed to draw based on his income? (We live in Oklahoma, if that makes a difference)

    Thank you.

    1. Social security does recognize common law marriages if they are recognized by the state. Oklahoma courts rely on a well-established test which includes the following elements:

      1. both parties to the alleged common-law marriage must have the legal capacity to enter into the marriage (they must be of sufficient age and not married to anyone else)
      2. there must be an actual and mutual agreement between the parties to enter into a permanent and exclusive marriage (this must be a current agreement; being engaged or agreeing to get married at some point in the future doesn’t count.)
      3. there must be cohabitation as man and wife or consummation of the marriage, and
      the parties must hold themselves out to the community as husband and wife.
      4. The person seeking to show a common-law marriage must prove all of these elements by clear and convincing evidence. If clear and convincing evidence is missing as to any part of the above-referenced test, the claim of a common-law marriage will fail.

      The general conduct of both parties during their relationship will provide most of the evidence necessary to establish a common-law marriage. Relevant evidence may include:

      1. the fact that the couple has lived together for a period of time (cohabitation)
      2. joint income tax returns
      3. joint financial accounts or credit cards
      4. jointly-held assets or debts (a home, car, mortgage, or other loans)
      5. life insurance policies and retirement or pension plans that list the common-law spouse as a beneficiary
      6. using the other common-law spouse’s last name
      7. medical records which list the common-law spouse as next of kin
      8. testimony from third parties regarding how the couple introduced each other in the community and at social gatherings
      9. cards, presents or other evidence of celebrations marking the anniversary of the common-law marriage
      10. notes or other writings that include language such as “husband” or “wife,” and
      11. family photos showing the couple wearing wedding banks.

      I hope that helps.

      1. You have been very helpful, thank you.

        On #2, the actual and mutual agreement, does this need to be in writing?

        We file joint taxes, are each others beneficiaries, joint checking and savibgs account, have 3 kids and 4 grandkids together. Since we were legally married I’ve always hyphented my maiden name with his last name. He is an OTR truck driver, I also have a CDL and for part of the year I drive a truck with him.

        Most of our families are not even aware that we got divorced, so witnesses stating we portray ourselves as married is not a problem.

        BUT…the house and car is financed in his name only (his credit was better) we do have 1 vehicle and a camper in both our names. And I am an authorized user on several credit cards.

        So I should be ok with SS admin.

        Thank you again.

  132. I was Married to my ex for 20 years got divorced in 2005. I became disabled and receive ssd and on medicare part a and b. My question is since I became disabled in 2005 and receive a disability check from what I read after age 50 I can remarry and I would still be able to receive my ex husband’s retirement at either 62 or at full retirement or if he becomes deceased on before or after his retirement. Just confused by what I read. I’m in texas thankyou

  133. I am a 46 year old widow with 2 small children, i currently collect survival benifits for my children and myself. My question is do I lose my benifits if I enter into a common law marriage?

  134. Hello. I am 64 years old. My ex-husband retired when he was 62. When I retire at age 66 will I receive half of the amount that he received at age 62 or half the amount he would have received at age 66?

    1. You are entitled to benefits based on your own record or divorced spouse benefits based on his record. The amount you received will not be reduced because you will be of full retirement age. The fact that his benefits are reduced because he began collecting early doesn’t affect you — your benefit is based on his earnings record.

  135. Pingback: Social Security and Divorce

  136. I married in 1972, divorced in 1983, remarried in 1989, divorced in 2004. I am turning 62 in a few months. 1st ex is 65 and collecting SS. Second ex is 57. 2nd ex made substantially more money than 1st ex or me. What is my most profitable strategy?

    Thanks so much.

    1. If you begin collecting social security at age 62, you can collect reduced benefits based on your own earnings or divorced spouse benefits based on the earnings of the former spouse who is of retirement age, and then switch to divorced spouse benefits on the other former spouse when he becomes of retirement age. If you wait to collect until you are 66, your benefits will not be reduced.

  137. Ellen McMackin

    I am 661/2 years old and receive one-half of my ex-husband’s social security (he is alive). I have been told by Social Security is that if I remarry I can no longer receive that benefit and that I will have to wait one year before I can receive one-half of my new husband’s (who is 70) benefit. One of your remarks in 2014 was that there would be no waiting period since I was already receiving a benefit. Help! I am very confused! Many thanks for your reply.

    1. I’m so glad you asked. For some reason the Social Security representatives are not trained on this even though it is right there in their Program Operations Manual System. Here’s the link you can give them to the appropriate section in their own manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300202001

      It says that you must have been entitled to husband’s or wife’s (including deemed or divorced spouse’s), widow(er)’s (including deemed widow(er)’s or surviving divorced spouse’s),in the month before the month of marriage to the new husband to begin getting payments right away. That’s why you don’t have to wait a year to collect.

  138. I took early social security to help my husband. I only get $700. He is older and gets $1800. If we divorce do I get both mine and his?

  139. I was married for 27 years, the divorce was final 3 years later, total of 1 month short of a 30 year marriage, Divorced in 2010 My lawyer, now retired, told me in 2013 that my ex was requested to retire at his work. On January 16, 2014 I contacted Arvin Meritor his retirement with his job that has changed their name from Roll Coater. Arvin gave me a run around that there is a lot of money, I called them 3 months and 8 days before my exes 55th birthday. Arvin said I would get a package to look at and it will take 3-6 months to prepare. I waited 8 months then called them now they say it is only a small amount. A lady said I would get back pay to April, 1000 ea. month & after, but they want to keep my money in there business. Now Arvin is offering a one time buy out and I feel they may be trying a slick move to keep my money as other PEOPLE, even my children indicate(d) to me I have. Arvin would not put my money off of my exes number till the 8th month when I called because the papers never came and still did not except for one sheet. Could this go into s.s. or do you think they put it into a share of the company of which I did not get any info on of them doing that. I realize you only deal with s.s info but I hoped you or someone knows of this. I feel if I cash out on a small amount they will keep the large amount for them. I feel my ex is trying to get it where I can’t collect his s.s.. Sincerely, Elizabeth Brownlee

    1. These funds are set aside for the benefit of the pensioners, which includes you, and not for the benefit of the employer or the administrators, so they have no reason to make the “slick moves” that you ascribe to them. Ask the employer to give you an accounting of the funds that were in the account and the portion that is allocated to you. And look at your divorce paperwork to see whether the plan value is listed or documentation was received at the time of the divorce. If necessary, you can get an actuary to review the documentation to see if the funds they are offering you to cash out are reasonable in light of the information on the form.

  140. I apologize in advance because I’m a little confused. I am not collecting at this point. I want to know if it makes sense to start collecting now of his benefit and if I can collect my full benefit in two years, at 70, which is higher, if I file to collect his benefit now.I heard that I can collect his benefit now and enhance my benefit to what I can collect as my full benefit when I turn 70, which is much higher. In a way, I’m asking if I can collect my ex-husbands shabby benefit for two years until I turn 70, then switch to my benefit which I can collect which is much higher to maximize everything and anything I am entitled to with social security benefits as a divorcee.

    1. Yes, file for benefits right away, since you’ve already lost out on two years of collecting on your (spouse/divorce spouse — I can’t tell from your post) benefits. Then switch to your own when you are 70.

  141. I just turned 68 and my benefit is higher at $1700 than my ex-spouse’s half benefit which is about $750. I heard I can file and suspend my own current benefit until I am 70 and file for his (half) benefit right now and collect until I am 70, at which time I will file for my own full benefit which will be close to $2000. Am I taking the right course of action or can I hurt myself by trying to take advantage of his half benefit now?

    1. There is no need to file, since you are already collecting. You could switch over to his benefit for the next two years, and you’d get an enhanced benefit at age 70 that is 8% per year higher, which is around 16%. Whether that’s the right thing to do depends on whether you can afford to reduce your benefit for the next two years, and whether you are going to live for a long time, so that you’ll make up the difference with your enhanced benefit.

  142. I live in Iowa my deal is this I was married 27yrs divorced 2002 Been divorced 12 yrs now my x is going to retire at age 62 he is remarried, I have been on disability since 2007 and worked for school system and am collecting my pension each month along with SSDI, when I applied they pay me under my benefits I earned however when he reaches 62 am I entitled to any of his social security I am still single never remarried His income went up considerably since our divorce any answers?

    1. Any social security benefits you would receive as a divorced spouse would be offset by 2/3 of your school pension, so there may be nothing there to collect. But you can check with Social Security to find out for sure.

    1. If you are under full retirement age, you don’t get a choice — they pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled. At full retirement age, you can choose which benefit you want to receive.

        1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

          Yes, once you are full retirement age you can change to a benefit that pays you less than you were receiving.

  143. I am 67 years old and receiving 1/2 of my first husband’s Social Security earnings( he is also 67). I have been divorced form my second husband for 6 years and was married to him for 24 years. He is 60 years old , still working and has not remarried. I heard there was a new law that says that I can now claim half of my 2nd husbands SS earnings before he turns 62. Do you know anything about the validity of this new law?

    1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

      There is no new law. Your former spouse would have to be of retirement age for you to collect. And you won’t get benefits from both former spouses — this is an either/or situation.

  144. Hello,

    I generally understand the pension offset process for CSRS beneficiaries but I’m having trouble understanding the reverse scenario. For example, if an ex-wife meets the eligibility requirements to receive her husband’s social security benefits, is she out of luck if he was a federal CSRS employee his entire career? I have a situation where the divorce decree (30 years ago) granted the husband his full CSRS retirement and left nothing to wife. Is it correct to assume that because of the husband’s CSRS participation, the ex-wife will not be entitled to her portion of his social security benefit? Thanks for your help!

    1. Are you saying that he was under the federal retirement system and not covered under the social security system during his working years? If that is the case, his soscial security benefit is zero, and her portion of zero is zero.

  145. This is in regards to a friend of mine, he doesn’t want his name published!
    He told me he filled out his own paper work for his devorce from his first wife.
    He sent the papers to her, it was sent back to him and he went to court to get it finalized.
    The paper was signed off and made final, he happened to be looking through his papers one day to find that his wife never signed the devorce papers!! In the meantime he had remarried, I told him it isn’t legal, he is still married to his X but his X had died and it was after he remarried he says he is legal.
    Question: Is he legally married to his second wife and can he collect from her Soc. Sec.?

  146. I was married to my first husband for over 10 years which ended in a divorce. I remarried and after 13 years, my husband passed away. I am 56 and know that I can begin collecting widow’s benefits as early as age 60. How much more would I receive if I wait until age 62? What is the calculation to determine the amount?

    If my first husband made more money in his lifetime than my second husband, would I be entitled to collect on my first husband’s benefits at age 60 or would I have to wait until my first husband turns at least 62 years of age? If this is the case, could I collect widow’s benefits at age 60 and switch to divorced spouse benefits from my first husband when I reach age 62 should the determined amount be greater?
    I am pretty certain that I didn’t make more money than either of them over the course of my working years. If this is the case and I remain unmarried, would I collect a higher benefit amount by waiting until age 66 or longer to begin collecting social security?

    If I should remarry after age 60 or 62, would there be any advantage to suspending or stopping social security until age 66 or 70 (is this even an option?), to begin collecting SS benefits? I’d have to be married at least 10 years to a 3rd husband to collect on his social security record, correct? If this is the case, could I switch and collect on my 3rd husband’s social security after 10 years or marriage should it turn out to be a greater amount than I am collecting at that time? Thank you.

    1. If you collect before full retirement age, the monthly reduction is .4%. If your deceased spouse made more than you did, it is likely that his earnings record would yield a higher benefit than yours. Social Security will figure it out when you apply for benefits.

      It is doubtful that divorced spouse benefits on your first husband or spousal benefits on your proposed third husband would be greater than your own benefits or widow benefits, since both are just 50% of what the worker is entitled to collect. If you do begin collecting early because you need the money, you can suspend your benefits at any time you no longer need the money.

      1. Hi GInita,

        To have a clear understanding about the ex wife who may be entitled to collect former’s spouse ss benefits. You said earlier that the former wife who wish to collect ss benefits must turn 62 and NOT be remarried. So if the former wife re-married, she is not entitled to collect ss benefitis. Is that correct?

        1. If you remarry, you are eligible to collect based on your current spouse’s earnings history and not based on your former spouse’s earnings history. You can always collect your own benefits, whether you are married or not.

  147. I am 58 years old, my husband 45 years old. We are in the process of divorce. In what age can I get his SS? Should I waiting for he is 62, at that time I will be over 70. So I can’t get his SS in my sixties, right?
    Any other suggestions?

    1. To collect divorced spouse benefits, you much each be of retirement age (at least 62). Since he is younger, you can collect your own benefits and then switch to divorced spouse benefits once he reached retirement age.

      If he dies, you can collect surviving divorced spouse benefits no matter what age he was when he died, as long as you are of retirement age (60 or older).

  148. I am asking a question for a friend. Her ex-husband recently passed away. They were previously married over 20 years. She has contacted the local Social Security office regarding collecting his social security (she starting collecting her Social Security last year at age 62) but was told that she was denied collecting any of his benefits because they were married in another state (Kansas) and then moved several years later to North Carolina. Is this correct? Did not make sense to me??