When a couple is terminating their marriage, they often have questions about the correlation of divorce and social security spousal benefits a party may be entitled to. If your marriage was for more than ten years, you can claim Social Security spousal benefits on the entire earning history of your ex-spouse. This is commonly called a derivative benefit and it is equal to one-half of your former spouse’s benefits. Such social security spousal benefits allow a spouse to either choose his/her own Social Security benefits or the derivative benefits of his/her former spouse (whichever is greater). No additional papers have to be filed at the time of divorce for a spouse to receive Social Security benefits. Below are common questions we receive about divorce and Social Security spousal benefits. Read on to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce and Social Security Spousal Benefits

When addressing the issue of divorce and Social Security spousal benefits, there are many typical questions that people have. Below are answers to often asked Social Security spousal benefits questions that may make this somewhat complex issue a bit clearer.

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1. How Much of My Spouse’s Social Security Benefits Will I Receive?

As a divorcee, you can receive no more than one-half of your former spouse’s Social Security benefits. If your former spouse passes away, you can receive his/her full Social Security benefits. The amount of Social Security spousal benefits you receive will depend on your age. The younger you are when you receive benefits, the less you will receive. You will receive a higher benefit amount if you plan to retire around age 67. As mentioned above, while your former spouse is alive, you can receive a derivative benefit. Upon his/her death, you are eligible to receive a survivor benefit.

2. Can a New Spouse also Claim Benefits?

A later spouse can claim Social Security spousal benefits simultaneously with the former spouse. The marriage must have lasted at least ten years for a subsequent spouse to get benefits.

3. How Can I Apply for Social Security Spousal Benefits?

Visit www.ssa.gov to apply for benefits. You can apply over the phone at 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office to complete the application process. You must have your former spouse’s Social Security number to apply for benefits.

 4. Can My Former Spouse Collect Benefits Based on My Work History?

Yes. Either spouse can get a derivative benefit from one another. If your former spouse receives a higher benefit than you, choose to receive a derivative benefit from his/her Social Security.

5. Can I Receive Public Benefits in Addition to Social Security Spousal Benefits?

Benefits received from a non-Social Security covered job may cut the overall amount of  benefits. Contact the Social Security Office more information about the Government Pension Offset provision applicable to derivative benefits.

Filing for divorce almost always has financial consequences to both spouses. It is important to make sure that, as a divorced spouse, you take advantage of all availabke avenues of income that you may be entitled to, such as Social Security spousal benefits following divorce. If you are facing divorce, contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to obtain Social Security spousal benefits following your divorce.


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