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Am I entitled to receive Social Security benefits from my spouse after divorce?

As part of their post-divorce financial planning, clients often ask whether they can receive a portion of their spouse’s Social Security payments.

Answer:  Yes, if you meet the requirements. 

The best part is that it doesn’t impact your spouse’s Social Security in any way.

Keep in mind that you can’t get your spouse’s Social Security in addition to your own, so this benefit was really designed to ensure that homemakers have another source of funds in retirement because it will only benefit you if your spouse’s Social Security payments would be higher than your own.

In order to qualify to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record:

  • you must be divorced;
  • your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer;
  • you must have not remarried;
  • you must be at least 62 years old;
  • your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
  • Your own Social Security benefit would be lower than the one your spouse is entitled to receive.  A spouse that meets these qualifications can receive up to 50% of their former spouse’s full retirement rate.  Claiming a ex-spouse’s rate prevents you from claiming your own rate, which is why you should elect to claim the higher rate.  For more information on what elections you should make in order to maximize your Social Security benefits visit the Social Security website here.

–Sean