Aging Well

Aging Well

Divorced and over 62? You may be eligible for divorced spousal Social Security Benefit

Posted August 22, 2019 10:42 a.m. EDT

Finances can be especially worrisome for older divorced, single women who do not receive Social Security

Did you know that if you are over 62, divorced, were married for more than ten years, and not currently married to someone else, you may be eligible to receive up to half the amount your ex-spouse receives in Social Security?

While it may not amount to a lot, it can provide some real relief and peace of mind to those spouses who stayed at home to care for children or elderly family members and only entered the job market later in life often at a significantly lower salary. It can also provide some relief to their adult children, who may be financially supporting them.

To be clear, the Social Security benefit you are entitled to receive from your own work record must be less than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouse’s record. You collect whichever benefit is more; you do not collect both.

Here are the most common questions people ask when they learn about this policy:

  1. Does it affect the amount my ex-spouse receives?
    No.
  2. What if my ex-spouse has remarried?
    It doesn’t matter.
  3. What if my ex-spouse has not started receiving his/her benefit?
    If your ex-spouse qualifies, but has not started exercising their benefit and you have been divorced for at least two years, you can go ahead and start taking your benefit.
  4. How much can I receive?
    It will depend on how much you qualify for. If you are 65 or older, you may be eligible for 50% of the benefit your ex-spouse qualifies for. If you begin taking your benefit before 65, your benefit will be permanently reduced. In general, the longer you wait, the higher the benefit. This goes for the spouse who is still married, too.
  5. What if my ex-spouse has died?
    In addition to having been married over ten years, you must be 60 or older, receive a benefit lower than the one you would receive if you exercised your ex-spouse’s benefit, and have not remarried before 60. If you re-marry after 60, you may still be eligible.
  6. How do I collect the benefit?
    Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Be prepared to provide your birth certificate, marriage license and divorce decree. You will also need your ex-spouse's Social Security number
  7. Are there websites where I can read more about this?
    Yes, visit: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html There is also a wonderful publication produced by the Social Security Administration called “What Every Woman Should Know.”