How does a divorced spouse qualify for Social Security benefits?

You can receive benefits on your ex-husband`s Social Security record if he is receiving Social Security benefits (or is deceased) and:

  • your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
  • you are presently unmarried;
  • you are age 62 or older (if he is deceased, you can collect benefits at age 60 and age 50 if you become disabled); and
  • you are not entitled to an increased benefit on your own record that exceeds one-half of your ex-husband`s unreduced benefits.

If your ex-husband has not applied for benefits, but can qualify for them and is age 62 or older, you can receive benefits on his record if you have been divorced from him for at least two years and meet the requirements listed above.

If your ex-husband is deceased, you can receive benefits on his record even though you were not married to him for 10 years:

  • if you are caring for his child who also is your natural or legally adopted child and is under age 16 or disabled;
  • you are unmarried; and
  • you are not entitled to an equal or higher amount on your own record.

Your benefits will continue until the child reaches age 16 or the child`s disability ceases.

The amount of benefits you receive as a divorced spouse does not affect the amount of benefits another spouse receives on your ex-husband`s record.

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.

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