Can I Receive Benefits From My Ex’s Work Record?
You can qualify for Social Security benefits based on your most recent ex-spouse’s work record if you meet a few specific qualifying criteria, and the Social Security Administration will only grant you payments on your ex’s earnings record if he or she qualifies for monthly benefits. Whether or not your former spouse is actively receiving benefits has no bearing on your qualifying for benefits under their record.
To be eligible to receive payouts under your ex-spouse’s income record, the marriage would have had to have lasted for at least 10 years. You would have been divorced for at least two years and had not remarried. Your ex-spouse would need to be a qualifying candidate that can receive Social Security retirement income or disability benefits. To be eligible for the benefits under your divorced spouse’s earned income, you must be at least 62 years of age.
How Are the Benefits Calculated?
The SSA calculates the higher of the two payments, either yours or your former spouse’s. It will issue checks to you based on one calculation, which means you will be getting the rate that pays you the most benefits. You will not be entitled to receive a double payment.
The most that you will be entitled to receive through your former spouse’s earnings record is 50 percent of what he or she would be entitled to at full retirement age, which is currently 67 years old. If the amount that you would receive based on your own record would be greater than that, then your payments would be based on your personal earnings history, and that of your former spouse’s would be ignored for this purpose. You can get the maximum amount available to you if you file for Social Security benefits when you reach full retirement age. It is important to bear in mind that if you end up getting paid based upon your former spouse’s earnings history, the amount that they are entitled to receive will not be affected in any fashion whatsoever.
If you claim earlier, the benefit amount gets reduced. The payouts can increase by 8 percent every year between age 67 and 70 years if you wait until age 70 to collect benefits. If you delay filing your Social Security payouts past age 70, however, your benefits will not increase further.
What Happens if You or Your Former Spouse Remarries?
If your ex-spouse remarries, your eligibility status for receiving benefits under their record is unaffected. However, if you remarry, you no longer qualify for payments based on your ex’s record.
Filing the Claim
Before you file an application to receive benefits that are based on your former spouse’s income record, contact your local Social Security office to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements and to learn how much of a monthly payment it is estimated that you will receive. You will have to provide certain personal information, including your U.S. passport or another form of legal identification, as well as your divorced spouse’s identifying information. This can include your former spouse’s Social Security number, name, and any other information you may still have access to, such as a marriage certificate and a divorce decree. If you cannot locate those latter documents, you will need to provide the approximate dates of those events.
You can consult a divorce lawyer to ensure your documents are in order. The Social Security Administration will use this information to look up your former spouse’s work history.
The earliest you can file your Social Security claim is three months before you turn age 62. You can file an online application through the Social Security Administration website or by calling the SSA toll-free If you need an in-person interview with a Social Security representative, you should make an appointment with your local SSA office.
If you are confused by the process of claiming benefits from your former spouse, having the help of a divorce lawyer can be important. Contact the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner at (215) 866-1266 to learn more about the specifics of your case.