Social Security Benefits and Divorce

An individual is entitled to collect Social Security benefits based on his or her own earnings history, or 50% of the spouse or former spouse’s benefit, if it is greater than the individual’s, or 100% if the spouse is deceased.

In the event that the individual is divorced, it must have been a marriage of at least 10 years and the individual must be single unless he or she remarried after the age of 60.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“You might be eligible for a bigger Social Security benefit based on a former spouse’s earnings record if the marriage lasted at least 10 years, and:

  • You are at least 62 years old and unmarried and your former spouse is currently collecting benefits.
  • You have been divorced at least two years, your former spouse isn’t collecting benefits and you are both over 62.
  • You are over 60 and your former spouse has died.
  • Your spouse or former spouse delayed taking Social Security until after his full retirement age.”

If you think you might not be receiving all that you are entitled to in Social Security Benefits, then you should request a benefits review from the Social Security Administration.  “It doesn’t matter whether the ex-[spouse] remarried; collecting on his [or her] earnings record doesn’t affect what [the] current spouse (or any other ex-spouse) will receive. Nor does this require any involvement with the former spouse: The Social Security Administration has information about a former spouse’s earnings history and whether he [or she] is alive or not, and makes its determination based on those records.”