Can I receive benefits on an ex-spouse`s Social Security record?

A person who is divorced after at least 10 years of marriage keeps certain benefit rights on the former spouse`s Social Security record. To receive benefits, the divorced spouse must be at least age 62 and his/her former spouse must be entitled to (receiving) benefits. However, if the spouse has been divorced at least two years, he or she can get benefits even if the worker is not retired or has benefits withheld because of work. In this situation, the worker must have enough credits to qualify for benefits and be age 62 or older. The 2-year divorce requirement can be waived if the former spouse was entitled to benefits in the month before the month of divorce, but was not receiving benefits because of work deductions.

The amount of benefits a divorced spouse receives has no effect on the amount of benefits a current spouse can get. Benefits usually cannot be paid to a remarried divorced spouse on the former spouse`s record unless the latter marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment.) On the other hand, benefits can be paid to a remarried divorced widow(er) if:

•He/she remarries at age 60 or later; or
•He/she remarries at age 50 after becoming disabled. (If he/she is already entitled to disabled widow(er`s) benefits and remarries, benefits can continue regardless of age.)
A divorced spouse or widow(er) who is entitled to benefits other than those on their former spouse`s record cannot receive both benefits in full. For example, if a divorced spouse worked under Social Security and is entitled to higher benefits based on their own earnings, they would receive benefits based on their record only.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Additional Elder Law Articles

Search LawInfo's Elder Law Resources