Have you ever wondered if you are entitled to social security benefits after divorce? Continue reading this article to find out more.
The meaning of social security benefits after divorce is slightly different from country to country. Generally, it is financial assistance the state of a particular place gives to pensioners, unemployed, divorcees, or elderly individuals.
It is vital to know about spousal social security and social security benefits for divorced spouses as a married person. When it comes to social security benefits after divorce, many people are confused and want to know their rights. Some of the questions on their mind include:
What percentage of social security benefits does a widow receive?
Can a divorced woman collect her ex-husband’s social security?
How much social security does an ex-spouse get?
Can you collect social security from a deceased ex-spouse?
Does the wife get half of her husband’s social security?
If my ex-husband dies, do I get his social security?
Can I collect social security from my ex-husband if I remarry?
The above and many questions are what married individuals want to know. Well, you can collect spousal social security benefits on a former wife’s or husband’s finances based on specific criteria. The Social Security Administration has set the rules to allow former married individuals or widows to access their former partner’s earnings.
So, how does spousal social security work? Or how does divorce affect your social security benefits?
How does divorce affect your social security benefits?
Many individuals are unaware that some factors can affect how much you earn from social security benefits after divorce. That has brought the question, “How much social security does an ex-spouse get?”
Factors that can determine your spousal social security benefits include the age you claim and how much you earned in the years you paid into social security. Divorce is a factor many couples ignore, yet it’s crucial to your earnings.
If you are divorced and were married for at least ten years, you or your ex-spouse can benefit from social security benefits after divorce. You can also claim spousal social security based on your work records as a divorcee for at least two years.
Your ex-spouse’s record is another aspect you can earn monthly. If your benefit is more significant than the benefit you should receive as an ex-spouse, you have no spousal social security benefit.
To receive the total amount of these social security benefits as an ex-mate, you must have reached full retirement age between 66 – 67. If you claim your spousal social security before this age, it amounts to a reduction in the benefits.
For example, if you are eligible to get spousal social security but claim your benefit at age 61 or 62, you will receive 35% instead of 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefits. However, if you remarry but the marriage ends by death or divorce, you can still claim spousal social security.
Also, if you were born before Jan. 2, 1954, you could receive spousal social security benefits at retirement age and delay your retirement benefit until later. However, it does not work for people born after Jan. 2, 1954, filing for social security after divorce. If you were born after Jan.2, 1954, and file for any retirement benefit, you would automatically file for all retirement benefits.
Eligibility requirements for divorced spouses
Before knowing the answer to the question, “how much social security does an ex-spouse get?” it is vital to know the social security spousal eligibility. Collecting spouse social security does not come on a platter of gold.
Since there might be a chance for ex-spouses to receive spousal social security, many people try to know their social security spousal eligibility. So, to answer the question, “Can a divorced woman collect her ex-husband’s social security?” or “Am I entitled to my ex-spouse’s social security? Yes, only if you meet the following social security spousal eligibility criteria:
your ex-partner is eligible for social security benefits or unemployed benefits
your marriage was at least ten years
you’re at least 62 years
you are not married
Your work record benefit is lower than your ex’s record benefits.
Suppose your ex-husband hasn’t applied for the social security benefits but is eligible and is up to 62 years or older, you can receive the social security benefits after divorce from him.
Remember that the divorce must be at least two years, and you must meet all of the requirements above. The earliest time to apply for spousal social security is three months before your 62nd birthday, and you can do so online on your My Social Security account.
Eligibility when your ex-spouse is deceased
Another pertinent question spouses ask is, “Can you collect your spouse’s social security after they die? Or “Can you collect social security from a deceased ex-spouse?” The answer is yes once you meet the social security spousal benefits eligibility.
Others have also asked the question, “What percentage of social security benefits does a widow receive?” If your ex-husband dies, you may receive the 100% of spousal social security benefits on his record once your marriage lasts for at least ten years.
However, you may still be eligible for collecting social security benefits after divorce If your marriage didn’t last for ten years based on the following:
You still take care of your ex-husband’s biological or legally adopted child
The child is not above age 16
The child is disabled
The child is getting benefits on your ex-husband’s work record.
Based on the eligibility listed above, you will continue to receive your spousal social security benefits until the child reaches age 16 or the child suddenly becomes able-bodied.
Meanwhile, the benefits you collect as a divorced spouse will not affect what other survivors get on your ex-spouse’s record. In addition, you don’t have to reach your full retirement age before getting the social security of your deceased partner.
Unlike social security benefits after divorce, as soon as you reach 60 years, you are eligible for spousal social security as a surviving divorced spouse. If you are disabled, you can receive the benefits at age 50.
Am I entitled to my ex-spouse’s social security?
Yes, you have a right to social security benefits after divorce. Once you are divorced and were married for up to ten years, you or your ex-spouse can benefit from social security benefits after divorce.
You can also file for spousal social security based on your work records as a divorcee for at least two years.
How long do I need to have been married to collect my ex’s benefits?
Another common question people ask is “How long do you have to be married to get spouse social security?”You have to have been married for at least ten years before you can get social security benefits after divorce according to the Social Security Administration. Also, your divorce must be at least two years.
What you should know about full retirement age
As soon as you clock at age 62, you can apply and start receiving your social security benefit after divorce. You will only be getting half of the full social security at this age. In other words, your benefits will be reduced by a certain percentage monthly till your full retirement age.
However, you are eligible for the full benefits when you reach your full retirement age, between 66 and 67. If you delay your social security benefits till the full retirement age of age 70, your benefit amount automatically increases.
To know how your social security will be affected if you start receiving benefits from age 62 till your full retirement age, check the following table as given by the social security administration:
Normal retirement age
Year of Birth
1937 and prior
65 and 2 months
65 and 4 months
65 and 6 months
65 and 8 months
65 and 10 months
66 and 2 months
66 and 4 months
66 and 6 months
66 and 8 months
66 and 10 months
If you were born before February, you should check the previous year. That means if your date of birth falls on Jan. 1, your social security is calculated as if you were born in December of the last year.
Generally, it is best to reach your full retirement age before taking your spousal social security. Longer delays of your social benefits after your full retirement age attract delayed retirement credits. This credit automatically increases your monthly benefit.
Can I collect my ex-spouse’s social security if I am remarried?
Another question frequently asked is, “Can I collect social security from my ex-husband if I remarry? The answer to this question varies. If your ex-spouse is still alive, you can’t collect social security benefits as a divorced spouse.
That’s because your new marriage voids your eligibility to your former partner’s social benefits as long as they are alive.
If you were applying for spousal social security and suddenly married another person, Social Security will terminate your request. You have to report any changes to your marital status to social security.
However, If your ex-husband or ex-wife is deceased, you can remarry and continue collecting spouse social security from their earnings record. Remember you must be 60 years or older when you remarry or 50 years or older if you are disabled.
The following situations can allow you to receive spousal social security the record of a living former spouse if you remarry:
You remarried the same person
If your new husband is already receiving a type of social security, including survivor’s benefits, divorced-spouse benefits, and childhood disability benefits.
Can I collect my ex-spouse’s social security benefits if they remarry?
The plain answer is: yes. You can collect your ex-spouse social security if he remarries. When it comes to collecting spouse social security, Social Security hardly considers the marital status of your former spouse. What matters is your marital status.
The leading criteria to be eligible for spousal social security benefits is a ten-year time frame of marriage. Being an ex-spouse stands even if your ex-husband or ex-wife marries again. However, if you remarry, you forfeit your eligibility for social security benefits after divorce.
Can I collect my ex-spouse’s social security if they haven’t retired yet?
Yes, you can apply for spousal social security on your former husband’s or wife’s record before they retire.
The divorce must, however, be at least two years before you apply. If you want to wait until your full retirement age before applying as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be close to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit. This rule also applies to a deceased ex-spouse.
To understand more about social security ex-spouse benefits, watch this video.
Should I file for divorce before my spouse starts receiving benefits?
The answer to this question depends on your current circumstances and why you are filing for divorce.
Regardless, when you apply for the divorce, you are still eligible for your spousal social security as long as you have been married for ten years. But before you can receive this benefit, your divorce has to be at least two years, even if your former partner hasn’t filed for divorce yet.
Generally, it is best to apply for spousal social security if you are still married and consider divorce final. Also, it is vital to know and save your ex-spouse’s Social Security numbers and dates of birth. That will make the enrollment process smooth and faster.
How earnings are calculated for social security
As you make plans for your divorce or retirement, you may ask how social security earnings are calculated – “how does spousal social security work?” First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for all forms of social benefits.
You need a personal Social Security account according to the Social Security Administration. This account gives you an estimate of your unique retirement benefits and how retirement age affects your earnings.
The basis of your social security is your lifetime earnings based on your work record throughout your working life.
That forms the foundation of what the SSA uses to work out social security. Based on this, Social Security adjusts your earnings to reflect historical changes in wages since you started receiving your payments.
Then, Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings using your best earned 35 years. If your eventual income meets the maximum taxable income, then it is subjected to social security taxes.
After that, Social Security uses a formula with your monthly average to determine your primary insurance amount (PIA). The result is the amount you are entitled to monthly when you reach your full retirement age to claim benefits.
The full retirement age is currently 66 years and two months, increasing to 67 for people born in 1960 and after. As of 2021, the formula for your average monthly is:
90% of the first $996 of your average monthly earnings
Including 32% of any amount over $996
Including 15% of any amount over $6,002.
The addition of the above amount equals your full retirement benefit. The last part of calculating your social security earning is the addition of the age when you filed for your social security benefits.
As stated earlier, your social benefit is reduced if you claim your spousal social security earlier than the full retirement age. You will lose more if you start your social security at age 62.
However, they add to your earnings for each month between your full retirement age and 70 years before filing for benefits. You can get as much as 30% if you wait till 70 years before receiving your survivor benefits or spousal social security benefits.
How much of this benefit will I receive?
Similar to this question is “What percentage of social security benefits does a widow receive?” To make it easier for you, you should use the Social Security Quick Calculator.
Your social benefits largely depend on your earnings history and the date of birth you provide. Note that the Quick Calculator does not reveal your actual earnings for security purposes, so what you get is a rough estimate based on the information you provide.
The “Quick Calculator” generally assumes your past earnings, but you can adjust this to suit your payments. Specifically, the estimated average benefit in 2021 is $1,543 a month, while the highest goes for $3,148 monthly for someone who files for Social Security in their full retirement age.
Even though divorce sometimes comes with regret and disappointment, there are certain benefits attached. One of these benefits is the social security benefit after divorce. That means you can get some social security benefits from your ex-spouse’s social security even when you are not together.
However, you need to meet some criteria, including age, marital status, and work history.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.