Collecting Social Security from a Former Spouse

As you get closer to retirement age, you may be wondering what social security benefits you will receive. Of course, the amount you receive each month depends upon how much money you earned over the course of your life. However, if you were married, you may be able to receive more than your own benefits if your spouse made more money. This may be true even if you are divorced.

Married couples each receive their own social security payments based on how much money they made. However, if one spouse has a higher benefit amount, the other spouse can claim on that account as well. The amount you can claim from your spouse's account is the difference between your benefit payment and their payment.

In other words, if you receive $1,000 and your spouse receives $1,200, you will be able to receive an additional $200. This additional amount does not affect your spouse's payment in any way. It works a bit differently if you are divorced. Before explaining how much you can receive from an ex-spouse's social security benefits, here is some important information you need to know.

Length of Marriage

To collect social security benefits based on the income of an ex-spouse you must have been married to each other for at least 10 years. It does not matter how long ago the marriage ended, just that it lasted for 10 years. If you had more than one marriage last for more than 10 years, you will be able to choose which ex provides the highest benefit amount.

Marital Status

You cannot collect on an ex-spouse's social security benefits if you are currently married. Regardless of how many times you have been married, you may collect on any ex-spouse you were married to for the required 10 years.

Benefit Amount

Generally, you are eligible to receive an amount equal to one-half of your ex-spouse's benefit if you do not receive any benefits on your own behalf. If you did work, and are eligible for your own social security benefits, you will receive your own money, and then, if your ex receives more, you will be given the difference, or up to 50 percent of their benefit amount once you reach full retirement age.

Your Age

You have to be at least 62 years old to claim social security, either your own or your ex-spouse's. Your ex does not have to be retired for you to claim against their account, but you must have been divorced for at least two years if they are not currently retired.

Number of Marriages

It does not matter how many times you or your ex have been married. If your spouse has 5 exes, and their benefit amount is higher than all of them, they can all collect on the account. Each ex will be able to receive the same amount they would receive if they were the only ex-spouse. In addition, you have the right to receive benefits from whichever ex has the highest benefit amount.

You do not need to tell your ex that you plan on filing for benefits using their income. It may be best for you to contact a lawyer who works with social security and divorced people. A lawyer can be very handy when there are numerous ex-spouses involved so you can be sure to receive the most each month.

Contact Bahrie Law to get the claims process started when it comes time for you to retire. We will gather all the paperwork and documentation needed from you and all your exes. We want to make sure you receive the maximum amount you can each month so you don't have to worry about your finances through your retirement.