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Can I Collect Social Security Benefits From My Ex?

Divorce is almost always stressful. However, if your marriage falls apart later in life, you may face some financial setbacks that are much more difficult to recover from than when you were younger. If you’re an older adult facing a divorce, you may worry about making ends meet until you can collect Social Security. Fortunately, there are circumstances in which you may be eligible to receive a portion of your ex-spouse’s benefits. Please continue reading to learn when a divorced spouse is eligible and how a knowledgeable Ocean County Divorce Attorney can help guide you through these challenging times. 

How Do I Qualify for My Ex’s Social Security?

While most retirement benefits, such as pensions, are considered marital property and thus subject to equitable distribution in a divorce, Social Security is different. Under federal law, it’s regarded as separate property, meaning it will not be split between the parties during the division of assets. However, this doesn’t mean that a spouse doesn’t have derivative rights to Social Security benefits from their ex-spouse’s benefits. To collect Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been married to that spouse for ten years or more
  • You must be at least 62
  • You are unmarried
  • Your ex-spouse is eligible to receive Social Security benefits

How Much Can a Divorced Spouse Recieve?

Generally, a divorced spouse is entitled to claim half or 50% of their ex-spouse’s retirement benefit even if the ex-spouse has remarried. If the spouse is deceased, the Social Security benefits would end. However, you should be eligible to receive survivor’s benefits of up to 100% of that amount. You must have reached your full retirement age to receive the full 50% or 100% benefit.

If you file before reaching your full retirement age, the benefit will be permanently reduced. It’s crucial to remember that you can file as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be lower. In addition, you can’t claim both if you’re entitled to receive benefits on your record. Instead, you are entitled to recover whichever benefits are higher—your total amount or half of your ex-spouse’s.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand that the benefits you receive do not affect the benefits of your ex-spouse or their current partner. Your ex-spouse will not know if you claim Social Security on their behalf. Collecting Social Security on their behalf will not reduce or impact their payments in any way.

If a divorce is imminent, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted Ocean County divorce attorney from the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC, who can effectively represent your interests during this complex legal matter.