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How Do I Claim Social Security on My Ex’s after Divorce?

As far as Social Security, may be able to claim up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s primary insurance amount. That’s the amount they’re eligible for, once they reach full retirement age (FRA). If your ex-spouse is deceased, you may qualify for survivors benefits of up to 100%, but the rules for surviving divorced spouses are different than those for divorce.

Claiming Social Security based on a former spouse’s record has no impact on their benefits. That means that if you’re the former spouse whose ex could get more based on your earnings it won’t affect your amount. You’ll still get your full monthly payments. If your present spouse receives benefits based on your record, their payments also won’t be impacted.

The Mooresville Tribune’s recent article entitled “5 Rules for Claiming Social Security on Your Ex-Spouse After Divorce” gives us five rules to know about Social Security benefits and divorce.

  1. It’s OK to claim on your record or your ex’s record, not both. Just like on Seinfeld, there’s no double dipping. You get whichever is higher: 100% of your own retirement benefit or 50% of their benefit—but not both.
  2. You can’t remarry and claim your ex’s benefits, but your ex can. To claim benefits based on the work history of an ex-spouse who’s still alive, you’re can’t remarry. However, it doesn’t matter if your ex-spouse has remarried. You can still file for benefits based on their record, if you remain single. If they have multiple ex-spouses, they’re all allowed to claim based on the spouse’s record. You can only claim on the record of your most recent ex-spouse. If you remarry, you must tell Social Security. They’ll terminate your benefits (unless the person you’re marrying is your ex-spouse). You can then collect on your new spouse’s history, after you’ve been married for at least a year.
  3. You and your ex must be at least 62. To claim on behalf of an ex, they must be eligible for Social Security—so they have to be at least 62 and have at least 40 work credits. The credits are equal to 10 years of full-time work. You must also be at least 62, no matter whose record you’re using. It’s important to know that if you claim Social Security at 62, you’ll reduce your monthly benefit, regardless of whose earnings it is based on. To get the maximum payment (50% of theirs or 100% of your own), you’ll have to wait until you’ve reached your FRA. If you claim prior to that, you’ll get less than half their benefit.

Remember that if you are claiming on your own record, you can increase your benefits by 8% for every year you delay past your FRA until you reach age 70. However, if you’re using your ex-spouse’s history, you won’t receive extra money for waiting beyond your FRA.

Note that if you were born before January 2, 1954, you can claim one person’s benefit once you reach your FRA, then switch over later on to get a higher benefit. Therefore, for example, you could take 50% of your ex’s benefit at 67, then switch over when you qualify for a higher benefit on your own at age 70.

  1. You must have been married for 10 years. To qualify for benefits based on an ex-spouse’s record, the marriage had to have lasted 10 years, and you must have been divorced for at least two consecutive years. Even if you’ve been divorced for decades, you can use that ex’s record if you meet the other criteria.
  2. The fact that your ex is or isn’t taking benefits is irrelevant. As long as your ex qualifies for benefits, you can use their record to claim, despite that fact that they’re not yet getting Social Security. Your benefit is calculated based upon what they’ll qualify for at FRA. If they claim early for a reduced amount or delay to get higher checks, your benefit won’t be impacted whatsoever.

Reference: Mooresville Tribune (Oct. 9, 2020) “5 Rules for Claiming Social Security on Your Ex-Spouse After Divorce”

Read more related articles at:

Am I entitled to my ex-spouse’s Social Security?

Unraveling Social Security rules for ex-spouses

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Extra Social Security Benefits for Divorced People

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