CAN I COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS BASED ON MY EX-SPOUSE’S EARNING RECORD?
The answer is: Maybe!
A divorced person can collect under the earnings of a former spouse if certain facts exist. You can choose to collect benefits under your ex-spouse’s earnings (without impacting the ex-spouses benefits at all) if you meet the following qualifications:
- Your marriage lasted 10 or more years (I can’t tell you how many people I speak with who are never told that line of demarcation by their lawyer and get divorced between 9.5 and 10 years without knowing about it).
- The person looking to collect cannot be married at time they apply for benefits (you are considered unmarried whether by death, divorce or annulment).
- The person looking to collect must be 62. and
- The former spouse must be entitled to start collecting, or is collecting, social security retirement or disability payments.
HOW IS THE BENEFIT CALCULATED AND PAID?
Generally speaking, if otherwise eligible, you will be paid one half of the benefit amount your former spouse is entitled to. However, if your ex-spouse predeceases you and died before you apply for benefits (no jokes here please) then you may be able to claim 100% of your ex’s benefit. If your benefit under your own earnings is more than either of those two calculations then you collect under your own earnings.
WHAT IF I HAD TWO MARRIAGES LASTING 10 YEARS OR MORE?
In this case you can choose the benefits for either former spouse as long as you meet the 4 requirements above.
WHAT IF MY EX WAS MARRIED AT THE TIME HE DIED?
Doesn’t matter. Both you and current wife are entitled to collect under the deceased spouse’s/ex-spouse's retirement benefits as long as you are both otherwise entitled.
WILL MY EX BE TOLD I AM APPLYING AND USING THEIR EARNINGS RECORD
No. Your ex-spouse will not be told or notified when you apply.
HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Call local office or go online to SSA.gov. A very helpful site. If possible, have former spouse’s SSN, or date and place of birth, or names of both your former in-laws.
I am available to answer any additional questions you may have on this topic or other topics of concern in your divorce. Please call Bayer & Black, P.C and ask for me at 203-762-0751. Be safe. Together we go firther.