Divorced? 3 Things To Know About Social Security

Pamela Kweller RSSA Staff


Your marital status is just one of the many factors to take into consideration when maximizing your Social Security benefits. If you are divorced, there are a few important things to know that could help you maximize your Social Security benefits.

1.  If you are divorced, you still may be eligible to receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record.

Many divorcees are surprised to learn that they may be entitled to ex-spousal benefits. You may be eligible to collect ex-spousal benefits if you were married for more than 10 years, you are currently single, and you are at least age 62. Just remember, your ex-spouse may be eligible to receive benefits based on your record too.

2. If you have been divorced for more than 2 years, you are considered “independently entitled.”

This means that your ex-spouse does not need to be collecting retirement benefits in order for you to receive ex-spousal benefits based on his/her record.

If you have been divorced for less than 2 years, you must wait until your ex-spouse is collecting their retirement benefits in order for you to collect a spousal benefit based on his/her record.

3. Your ex-spouse does not need to be made aware that you are receiving benefits off his/her record.

In order to apply for ex-spousal benefits, you do not need to tell your ex-spouse or ask for their permission. It is common for individuals to be completely unaware that their ex-spouse is collecting benefits based on their record. Ex-spousal benefits will not have an impact on the benefits of the one whose record they are being paid from.

There are several documents that will prove your eligibility for ex-spousal benefits such as your marriage certificate and divorce decree. You may need your birth certificate, proof of citizenship, and W-2 to apply. You will also need your ex-spouse’s Social Security Number. If you do not have it, the Social Security Administration may be able to look it up if you are able to answer certain personal questions such as your ex-spouse’s date and place of birth, name of parents, and more.

Whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, or remarried – you want to be sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. Don’t leave any money on the table. By working with a professional like an RSSA, you can feel confident in your Social Security decisions.