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Social Security Benefits: Benefits for Divorced Spouse

Updated on January 12, 2011

Overview: What are Social Security Benefits

Social Security is a simple concept and the benefits of Social Security are easy to understand. It is a program that every US Citizen will encounter at some point or another.Social Security is a government set programs in which you pay a portion of your income taxes to the government, so they can maintain the Social Security program and all its benefits. The tax money is used toward: 

  • People who already have retired;
  • People who are disabled;
  • Survivors of workers who have died; and
  • Dependents of beneficiaries.

Can Your Divorced Spouse Receive Social Security Benefits?

If you divorced, your ex-spouse can receive Social Security benefits if the following three conditions are met:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;

  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried;

  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;

  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on his or her own work is less than the benefit he or she would receive based on your work; and

  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.*

    *If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

    (Source: Social Security Online)

Other Conditions

If your spouse remarries, usually they can not collect benefits on your record unless their marriage legally ends.

If your divorced spouse is eligible for retirement benefits, that amount will be paid first. Here are some restrictions to watch out for:

  • If the benefit on your record is a higher amount, he or she will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount (reduced for age).

  • If your divorced spouse has reached full retirement age* and is eligible for a spouse's benefit and his or her own retirement benefit, he or she has a choice.
  • If your former spouse continues to work while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to him or her as apply to you. If he or she is eligible for benefits this year and is also working, you can use the earnings test calculator to see how those earnings would affect those benefit payments.
  • If your former spouse will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, his or her Social Security benefit on your record may be affected.
  • The amount of benefits your former spouse receives has no effect on the benefits that your current spouse may be eligible to.

*Click the link to use the table on that webpage to calculate full retirement age. Or similarly, click the link at the right.

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    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 7 years ago

      Unfortunately, I can't send an e-mail, there's some technical difficulties. But to answer your question, if he remarries you do not get part of his SS. You still get w/e is on his 401k, until he changes your name on there, to his current wifes name.

    • profile image

      bonnie ivey 7 years ago

      your answer can be sent to that e-mail address please

    • profile image

      bonnie ivey 7 years ago

      so if my former husband remarries do i still get part of his social divotce dacree i am entitled to half his 401k.can new wife contest this

    • Rhonda Waits profile image

      Rhonda Musch 7 years ago from The Emerald Coast

      A very useful hub.