Entitlement To Ex-Spouse's Social Security Retirement Benefits

If you get divorced when you reach retirement age, you can collect Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse's work history, providing the two of you were married for at least 10 years. It doesn't matter if your ex-spouse remarried. You still are entitled to benefits based on his or her earnings history.

How Remarriage Figures In

If you've remarried since the divorce, you can't collect on your divorced spouse's Social Security retirement benefits. To qualify, you must be single. If you remarried and then divorced a second spouse, you can collect on either spouse. Generally, you collect on the spouse that will give you the higher benefit. You just can't collect on both. No matter on which ex-spouse you collect, it won't affect how much that person or his or her current spouse can collect.

To collect on an ex-spouse's earnings record, you must be at least 62 years old. Also, the benefit must be more than the amount you would receive based on your own work history.

How Much You Receive

You can receive no more than 50 percent of your ex-spouse's benefit. If you take the benefit early before you reach your full retirement age, the benefit will be reduced more. Therefore, unless you need the income when you turn age 62, it may pay to wait until you reach your full retirement age before applying for benefits.

If you will receive Social Security benefits based on your own record, you may choose to receive your ex-spouse's benefit and delay receiving your benefit until you reach full retirement age or after. Although the spousal benefit doesn't increase after you reach full retirement age, your own benefit will increase each year until age 70. Therefore, it may be to your financial advantage to wait on collecting your benefit if you can afford to delay.

You may continue to delay receiving your own benefit after age 70, but the benefit will no longer increase. Whether you decide to delay taking benefits until age 70 or after, still sign up for Medicare at age 65. If you don't enroll in Medicare when you first become eligible, your coverage may be delayed when you do sign up, or your Part B coverage may cost you more.

Survivor Benefits

If your ex-spouse dies, you are entitled to collect survivor benefits just like a widow or widower. You must be 60 years old and have been married to the person for 10 years or longer. As long as you don't remarry until after age 60, you can collect survivor benefits based on your ex-spouse's earnings. Providing you meet these eligibility requirements, you can collect 100 percent of your deceased ex-spouse's Social Security benefit.

For more information, contact a lawyer in your area.

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