Retirement Planning

More On Social Security Benefits: Divorced Spouses

In prior posts, I’ve covered social security benefits for individuals and couples. Divorced spouse’s benefits are a hybrid of sorts. While technically they apply at the individual level, they are tied to a couple, or at least a former couple. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your marriage lasted longer than 10 years
  • You are currently unmarried
  • You are age 62 or older
  • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your work is less than the benefits you would receive on your ex-spouse’s work
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits

If your ex-spouse hasn’t applied for benefits but can qualify for them and is age 62 or older, you can receive benefits on his/her work if you have been divorced for at least two years.

If your ex-spouse is deceased, you can receive benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • If you’re at least age 60 (50 if you’re disabled)
  • Your marriage lasted longer than 10 years
  • You are not entitled to a higher benefit on your own record
  • At any age if you are caring for the deceased ex-spouse’s child who also is your natural or legally adopted child and is younger than 16 or disabled and entitled to benefits. 

As already mentioned, government programs are intended to help but often times are complex and confusing. Divorced benefits are no exception.