Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouses

Everybody wants to make the most of their social security benefits, but it can be hard to know what your benefits are as a divorced spouse. It can be confusing, since there are different existing benefits for ex-spouses and widowed spouses. If you’re curious about what your options could be as a divorced spouse, this article is for you! This article will cover some of the important things you need to know if you think you may qualify for Social Security benefits for divorced spouses. 


Main Requirements for You to Qualify

To begin, not all divorced spouses qualify for Social Security benefits for divorced spouses. How can you know if you qualify? There are two main requirements you have to meet. First, you must have been married at least 10 years. Secondly, you must have been divorced for at least two years to be able qualify for social security benefits for divorced spouses. 

I think I’m Eligible, Now What?

If you meet these requirements, then you are eligible to file on your ex-spouse’s benefit record and claim benefits on their record if your benefit is smaller than half of theirs. The great thing is, in this case, your filing on their record doesn’t impact their benefit, even if your ex-spouse remarried. Your ex-spouse’s new spouse can still claim on their benefit as well. 

It does not impact your ex-spouse or decrease their benefit amount in any way. They don’t even have to be involved in your claims process, by signing off or qualifying you. If you need the requirements for divorced spouse Social Security benefits you can claim them without impacting your ex-spouse or requiring their input to do so. 

Age Requirements

You should be aware that there are also age requirements involved, for both you and your ex-spouse. Unless your ex-spouse is 62 years old, you will not be able to claim Social Security Benefits for divorced spouses, even if you meet the other requirements. You must also be at least 62 years of age to be eligible to file a claim. 

We’re Both (at least) 62, Should I Claim Now?

You should also keep in mind that although 62 years is the minimum age for you and your ex-spouse to enable you to claim divorced spouse Social Security benefits, you may not want to claim them right away. Social Securities grows the longer you wait to claim it. Since the Social Security benefits grow in deferral, it pays to wait until you reach a full retirement age, around 66 or 67. 

In fact, the penalty is greater for taking an ex-spouse Social Security benefit early, as compared to taking your personal Social Security benefit early. For example, your personal benefit is decreased by 25% if you take it at age 62. However, if you take your ex-spouse Social Security benefit early, it is decreased by 30%. As with everything, we suggest that you look at the whole picture when deciding when to claim your divorced spouse Social Security benefit. You’ll want to strategize, within the context of your other income streams, your goals, and age to make sure you’re putting yourself in the best possible situation. 

Benefit Doesn’t Grow Past Full Retirement Age

If you’ve reached your full retirement age, it might be time to go ahead and claim your benefit. The benefit amount does not grow past your full retirement age, as your personal Social Security benefits. Your personal Social Security benefit will increase past your full retirement age, maxing out when you hit age 70. However, ex-spouse Social Security benefits do not follow this pattern and will not increase past full-retirement age. 

This means that if you’ve reached full retirement age and your ex-spouse benefit is greater than your personal benefit, you should go ahead and claim it, since it will not grow any further. 

If you want to learn more about divorced spouse benefits, options, and strategies, you’ll want to grab our free guide, the Social Security Decision Guide. You can get a free copy by simply emailing Get your hands on the free guide to take control of your divorced spouse benefits! 

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