Are you getting a divorce in the near future? If you were married for 10 or more years, guess what? You may be entitled to receive Social Security benefits on your former spouse’s earning record, or he or she may be able to receive benefits under yours.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), if a couple gets divorced and their marriage lasted at least 10 years, one of the spouses can receive benefits on their former spouse’s record, even if their ex-husband or wife remarried, providing:
- They are not married,
- They are at least 62-years-old,
- Their former spouse is entitled to disability or retirement benefits, and
- The benefits they are entitled to receive under their own work record is less than what they’d receive on their former spouse’s work record.
Essentially, a person is entitled to receive benefits under their former spouse’s record if they are single, 62 or older, were married for at least 10 years, and their benefits would be less than their former spouse’s. If such a person remarries, then he or she would not be able to collect Social Security disability or retirement benefits under their former spouse’s work record.
Suppose “Joanne,” age 63, was married to “Ross” for 25 years. Since Ross’s benefits are more than Joanne’s, she qualifies under his work record. Even though Ross went on to remarry, as long as Joanne remains single, she is entitled to benefits under Ross’s work record. The good news is that the benefits Joanne receives have no effect on the benefits Ross, or his current wife, “Elaine,” may receive.
According to the Social Security Administration, “If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record and divorced spouse’s benefits, we will pay the retirement benefit first.” The SSA goes on to say that if the benefit on your former spouse’s record is higher, “you will get an additional amount on your ex-spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.”