When it comes to Social Security benefits, it can be confusing figuring out exactly what you qualify for.
Especially if you have been divorced, or know someone who has, it is important to be aware of what ex-spouses have claim to in regards to Social Security benefits. It could be the difference in getting $1,000+ extra in benefits a year.
Social Security: Divorcee Benefits
What are the requirements to claim benefits from my ex-husband or ex-wife?
In order to claim Social Security benefits off an ex-spouse, you must meet a few requirements. These requirements include:
- You must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years
In order to claim off your ex, you must have been legally married for 10 years. It cannot be 9 years and 11 months, it needs to be 10 years to the day. It must have also been a legally binding marriage.
- You cannot remarry before age 60
If you get divorced and then get remarried before age 60, you are not eligible to claim off your ex-spouse anymore. You can claim off of your new spouse though.
While you should not base a new marriage around your Social Security benefits, it is something we have helped clients look into before a second marriage to make sure they could get the most benefits they are eligible for. Delaying marriage for a year or two to be able to collect off an ex-spouse is something that has definitely been done.
If you get married a second time, and then the marriage ends (by death, divorce, or annulment), you are then eligible for the first spouse’s benefits again.
If your ex-spouse remarries, even before 60, you are still eligible to claim on their benefit.
- Your ex-spouse need to be eligible to start their benefits
If your ex-spouse is already taking their Social Security benefit, you don’t need to worry about this. If your ex-spouse has not started their benefit, you have to meet some requirements in order to start yours.
First, your ex-spouse must be at least the age that they have the option to start their benefit. You can start Social Security anywhere between age 62 and 70. If they are not in this age range, you will have to wait.
If they have not yet applied but can qualify based on age, you can start your benefit as long as you have been divorced for at least 2 years.
How much do I get if I claim Social Security benefits off my ex-spouse?
So you meet all the requirements, but how much money are you going to get?
A spouse or ex-spouse is eligible for 50% of their spouse’s or ex-spouse’s full benefit. If your benefit on your own record is higher than half of ex-spouse benefit, you should consider claiming on your own record.
One thing to consider is if your ex-spouse dies before you, you will start getting their full benefit. We have helped many divorced clients evaluate if it will be better to claim on their own record or on their ex-spouse’s.
A great way to see an estimate of your benefit is to make an account with Social Security and look at the report they have for you.
Does claiming my ex-spouse affect their or their new spouses Social Security benefit?
The answer to this is no. If you are claiming on your ex-spouse, it will not affect their benefit at all. If your ex-spouse is remarried, it will also not affect their new spouse’s benefit.
We have a client Nick that has three women each claiming on his record. It is his current wife, as well as his two ex-wives, who he was married to for 10+ years.
When Nick dies, if all three women are still living, they will each get his full check. None of the women affect the other woman’s benefit. None of the women claiming take any benefit away from Nick.
Social Security benefits are highly personal, every single person’s situation is going to be different. Make sure you consult a professional before making this decision. You only get one chance to draw, make sure it is the largest benefit you can get.