You can claim spousal Social Security benefits even if you’re divorced — here’s how

A latest electronic mail raised a query that I’m certain is outstanding in lots of minds: How can I declare Social Safety advantages off my ex-spouse’s earnings document? And the way do I learn the way a lot I’m eligible for from the ex?

Spousal advantages are an vital a part of Social Safety retirement advantages. A spousal profit is out there to present for a partner who has a decrease profit on account of a decrease earnings document over his or her lifetime. 

Very often, there’s a division of labor amongst a married couple, the place one works full time all through his or her profession, and the opposite both works within the dwelling, maybe caring for youngsters, or works half time or sporadically exterior the house all through his or her working years. This case may result with one member of the couple having a a lot larger lifetime earnings document than the opposite, which then results in a a lot larger Social Safety profit versus the member of the couple with the decrease earnings document.

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When there’s a vital disparity between the 2 earnings information, Social Safety supplies a method for the lower-earning partner to obtain a rise to his or her advantages, as much as a most of fifty% of the complete retirement advantage of the partner with the upper earnings document. It’s a really simple course of if the couple remains to be married — and comparatively simple to find out the quantity of the attainable spousal profit for planning functions.

Nonetheless, within the case of a divorced couple (who I’ll name Ann and David, for our instance), this generally is a bit extra difficult. 

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To start with, we should make clear the necessities that have to be met to ensure that a spousal profit to be accessible for Ann. As with all Social Safety advantages, Ann have to be no less than age 62. Ann’s ex-spouse (David) have to be no less than age 62 as properly, and eligible for a retirement profit primarily based on his earnings document. Additionally, Ann should not be eligible for a retirement profit that’s larger than 50% of David’s full-retirement age profit. These necessities are not any totally different from a married couple, however that is the place the similarities finish.

(Please notice that though I’ve used a feminine identify because the decrease earner and a male identify for the upper earner, the gender roles could possibly be reversed and the claiming state of affairs could be the identical. As well as, same-sex {couples} are handled precisely the identical as reverse intercourse {couples} with regard to those examples.)

Along with the above necessities, the wedding between Ann and David should have lasted no less than 10 years earlier than the divorce. Even a day lower than 10 years will eradicate the opportunity of spousal advantages for Ann. Moreover, Ann have to be single on the time she applies for (and whereas receiving) the spousal profit. Subsequent marriages might have occurred after the divorce, however so as to obtain spousal advantages primarily based on David’s earnings, she have to be single on the time of her utility, and stay single.

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If Ann’s divorce from David was greater than two years in the past, Ann is straight away eligible for spousal advantages primarily based on David’s document, assuming all the above necessities have been met. If lower than two years have elapsed because the divorce was finalized, Ann is just not eligible for the spousal profit till one in all two issues have occurred: both 1) the 2 years elapse, or 2) David information for his personal Social Safety retirement profit.

In order you possibly can see, the eligibility necessities for divorcees are extra difficult than the married couple. The method of making use of for the profit is analogous, with a couple of modifications as properly.

Within the case of a married couple, submitting for a spousal profit is dealt with by any of the three strategies — on-line (by way of, on the telephone (toll-free at 1-800-772-1213), or in particular person at a neighborhood Social Safety workplace. When making use of for retirement advantages, your accessible spousal advantages are mechanically utilized for on the identical time.

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In Ann’s case it may change into rather more difficult. Most probably she might want to apply by telephone or in particular person at a neighborhood workplace, as the net course of gained’t doubtless meet her wants. She might want to present a duplicate of a wedding certificates and a divorce decree, so as to doc the truth that she’s eligible for the spousal profit. She additionally ought to (if she has it) present David’s Social Safety quantity.

If she doesn’t have his Social Safety quantity, Ann must be ready to offer as a lot data as attainable about David as she will be able to, together with full identify, date of start, final identified deal with, mother and father’ names, and different probably related data so as to establish him. As you possibly can think about, having the Social Safety quantity is the perfect and quickest method to establish the ex-spouse. With out the Social Safety quantity, it’s doubtless that there can be delays whereas the identification is confirmed.

With this data, and as soon as the identification is verified, Ann can full her utility for spousal advantages primarily based on David’s document. David can be unaware of Ann’s utility, and there’s no impression to his profit or some other profit primarily based on David’s document.

The reply to the second a part of the query is analogous. With a view to discover out what spousal advantages Ann may need accessible, it’s essential to establish David and show (with documentation) that Ann was married to David for no less than 10 years and that they’re divorced. As soon as this identification is full, Social Safety employees, both in particular person or on the telephone, can present details about what spousal advantages can be found.

Typically, when speaking with Social Safety staffers, asking a query about profit quantities leads to a solution solely primarily based on how a lot you may obtain at present. A lot of the time, delaying an utility for advantages even a couple of months can lead to a bigger profit quantity. Plus, in case you’re nonetheless working, you may need to surrender a part of your profit, relying on how a lot you earn.However these are matters for an additional time.

Readers, do you’ve got a Social Safety query? E mail us at | You may declare spousal Social Safety advantages even in case you’re divorced — right here’s how


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