Make Sure You Can Answer Yes To These Questions
To qualify for an exs Social Security benefits, you need to be able to answer yes to these four questions.
- Were you married for 10 years or more? If your marriage lasted less than 10 years, you wont qualify for an exs benefits. Common-law marriages dont count. You also need to have been divorced at least two years before you can start getting checks based on your former spouses history, unless theyve already started receiving benefits.
- Are you at least 62? This is the minimum age for starting Social Security retirement benefits, no matter whose record youre using. However, you can qualify regardless of your age if youre caring for your exs child who is under 16 or disabled. If your ex-spouse is deceased, you can qualify for survivors benefits at age 60, or age 50 if youre disabled.
- Are you still unmarried? If youre currently married, you can only claim on your record or your current spouses record. Youll only be eligible 50% of their full benefit as well. And if youve been married and divorced multiple times? Social Security will use whichever ex-spouses record gives you the biggest benefit. Remember, though: Only marriages that lasted 10 years or more will count.
The Rules For Social Security After Divorce
The maximum benefit you can get based on the record of a spouse whether youre currently married or divorced is 50% of their full retirement age benefit. Full retirement age is the age at which you qualify for 100% of your benefit. Its 66 or 67, depending on when you were born.
If your ex-spouse dies before you, youll typically be eligible to receive survivors benefits of 100% of the monthly payment they were receiving, just as you could if your current spouse died.
People with a long employment record will typically qualify for a bigger benefit based on their own earnings instead of a spouses. Social Security will give you the bigger benefit, but not both.
If you do qualify for more money thanks to your ex-spouse, theyll technically give you whatever benefit you earned based on your record. Then, theyll use your exs record to make up the difference.
Seeking to get revenge on an ex-spouse by claiming their Social Security? Move on. Your decision wont affect their benefits in any way, nor will it impact their current spouse if theyve remarried. If theyve been married multiple times, all their exes are allowed to claim on their record.
Occasionally, a divorce settlement will state that one spouse cant collect Social Security based on the other persons record. Such stipulations are utter nonsense. The Social Security Administration says theyre worthless and never enforced.
How Will A Credit Split Affect Future Canada Pension Plan Benefit Amounts
The impact of a credit split can vary considerably, depending on your circumstances. In some cases, a credit split can have a major impact.
In other cases, the impact of a credit split may be small. For instance, there are features of the Canada Pension Plan that protect your benefits from being reduced if you have some low earning years. These features are called the general drop-out provision and the child-rearing provision. If the time that you and your spouse or common-law partner cohabited overlaps with 1 of your “drop-out” periods, then there may be very little impact from the credit split. But the “drop-out” period would still work to your advantage.
Factors Affect What You Get
Scarlett: If you are already drawing a small amount from your ex-husbands Social Security, you should be eligible to receive a survivor benefit when he passes away. As long as a divorced spouse does not remarry before the age of 60 , he or she is treated as a spouse and will receive spousal and survivor benefits.
The determination of how much a survivor will receive is calculated by looking at two things. First, under most circumstances, the amount that a survivor receives is based upon the benefit that the deceased partner had been receiving.
If the deceased did not claim a benefit until after full retirement age , then the survivor benefit will be higher, since the survivor benefit will equal the higher benefit the deceased partner received from delayed claiming.
If the deceased partner was older than their FRA and had never claimed, then the survivor benefit will be based on the benefit that the deceased partner would have received if claimed at the time of death.
If the deceased partner was receiving less than 82.5% of his or her PIA, then the basis for the survivor benefit will be 82.5% of the PIA.
For example, lets suppose that the deceased partner had an FRA of 66, but claimed at 62. The benefit in this case would be reduced to 75% of his or her PIA. The survivor benefit would be based on 82.5% of the PIA, not 75%.
Effect Of Remarriage On Divorced Spouse Benefits
With regard to divorced spouse benefits, such benefits will end if you marry someone else . There is one exception, however: If your new spouse is currently receiving Social Security benefits as a wife, husband, widow, widower, father, mother, parent, or disabled child , you can continue receiving divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-spouses work record.
That may sound confusing, so lets run through an example.
Allan and Anna are married. Because Anna has devoted her life to raising their children and volunteering for assorted organizations, she doesnt have enough work credits to qualify for her own retirement benefit.
Burt and Beth are married. Similar to Anna, Burt has been a full-time parent/volunteer, and he doesnt have enough work credits to qualify for a retirement benefit.
Both couples get divorced, and Anna and Burt eventually qualify for benefits based on their ex-spouses work records.
Anna and Burt meet and fall in love. If it were not for the exception described above, if they were to get married, neither one would qualify for any Social Security benefits. That is, neither one has a retirement benefit, and therefore neither one can receive any spousal benefits on the other ones work record.
Because of the exception described above, however, both Anna and Burt can continue receiving spousal benefits on their ex-spouses work records.
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Delay As Long As Possible
The earlier you take benefits, the lower your monthly checks will be, no matter whose record you claim on. The 50% you can qualify for from their history is the maximum youll get if you wait until your full retirement age of 66 or 67. For every year you claim before then, youll permanently reduce your benefits by 6.66%. If you claim at 62, youd only qualify for 32.5% of their benefit.
Dont wait too long, though. When you take benefits on your own record, you get an extra 8% for every year you delay past your full retirement age until your benefits max out at 70. But when youre getting spousal benefits, you dont earn delayed retirement credits. You wont get extra money for waiting past your full retirement age, so theres no point in delaying any further.
A final note: In the past, a common Social Security strategy was to claim based on a current or former spouses record as early as possible, then switch over to your own bigger benefit later on. But the rules changed under a 2015 law called the Bipartisan Budget Act. Now this is only an option if you were born Jan. 2, 1954, or earlier.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to
Qualifying For Social Security From Your Exs Benefits
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A recent email raised a question that Im sure is prominent in many minds: How can I claim Social Security benefits off my ex-spouses earnings record? And how do I find out how much Im eligible for from the ex?
Spousal benefits are an important part of Social Security retirement benefits. A spousal benefit is available to provide for a spouse who has a lower benefit due to a lower earnings record over his or her lifetime.
Quite often, there is a division of labor among a married couple, where one works full time throughout his or her career, and the other either works in the home, perhaps caring for children, or works part time or sporadically outside the home throughout his or her working years. This situation can result with one member of the couple having a much higher lifetime earnings record than the other, which then leads to a much higher Social Security benefit versus the member of the couple with the lower earnings record.
However, in the case of a divorced couple , this can be a bit more complicated.
Readers, do you have a Social Security question? Email us at .
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Do You Qualify For Social Security Spousal Benefits
In this example, assuming the couple has been married for at least ten years , Jim would qualify for the spousal Social Security benefit based on Mike’s work record. Jim would also need to not get remarried. If he does get married, he would need to claim Social Security based on his own work record or take the spousal benefit from his new husband.
When Social Security was originally created, the spousal benefit was likely envisioned for the stay-at-home wife. Today with many double-income households, the gap between your own Social Security benefits and the spousal benefits may not be that wide. So, when planning to maximize your Social Security benefits in retirement, it can pay to review your various Social Security claiming options.
Does A Spouse Get Survivor Benefits
Your spouse, children, and parents could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. You may receive survivors benefits when a family member dies. You and your family could be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of a worker who died. The deceased person must have worked long enough to qualify for benefits.
Myths About Claiming Your Ex’s Social Security
There are a lot of misconceptions about Social Security and divorce. Here are seven myths that are just plain wrong.
1. Myth: You’ll reduce their checks.
A December 2020 Fidelity survey found that 52% of adults believed that someone’s ex-spouse could influence their Social Security benefits. Nope. Totally false. Claiming based on your ex’s record has absolutely no impact their benefits. If they’ve remarried, their current spouse’s benefits aren’t affected either.
2. Myth: Your divorce decree can ban you from getting their benefits.
Some divorce decrees do state that one spouse is prohibited from getting the other’s benefits. But as long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years, those clauses are “worthless and never enforced,” according to the Social Security Administration.
3. Myth: You need your ex’s blessing.
You don’t need to track down your ex so that they can sign off. Social Security won’t contact them if you’re using their record to qualify. However, you’ll need to provide some information about them so Social Security can locate their record.
If you don’t have their Social Security number, they may be able to find them if you can provide your ex-spouse’s name, parents’ names, and their date and place of birth.
4. Myth: You have to wait for them to take benefits before you can claim on their record.
5. Myth: You get to choose between your benefit and theirs.
What If I Worked Or Lived In Quebec
The CPP operates throughout Canada, except in Quebec, where the Quebec Pension Plan provides similar benefits.
If you and your spouse or common-law partner have contributed only to the QPP , you must find out about the eligibility rules under the QPP. For more information, visit Retraite Québec’s website.
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Social Security And Divorce: 7 Myths About Claiming Your Ex’s Benefits
Even if it’s been decades since the ink dried on your divorce decree, those marital vows you took can pay off in the form of higher Social Security benefits. As long as you haven’t remarried, your marriage lasted at least 10 years, and two years have passed since your divorce was finalized, you can qualify for up to 50% of a living ex-spouse’s benefit once you’re both eligible to start collecting.
Many people will get more Social Security simply from claiming based on their own record, rather than an ex’s. But if you have a limited work history, collecting on an ex’s record could give those monthly checks a serious boost.
Should You Take Your Ex’s Social Security
Whether you’re claiming on your record or theirs, be aware of the consequences of starting Social Security early. You can only qualify for 50% of their benefit if you wait until your full retirement age. If you start benefits at 62, your checks will only be 32.5% of their primary insurance amount.
If you meet the eligibility requirements for taking your ex-spouse’s benefits, it’s certainly worth having Social Security calculate both benefits so you can get the maximum amount. You won’t affect their benefits, and you won’t even have to contact them.
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Should I File For Divorce Before My Spouse Starts Receiving Benefits
When you begin receiving Social Security benefits, the SSA will calculate your benefits both as a worker and as an ex-spouse or widow.
If your ex-spouse is 62 or older and has not applied for benefits, you may start receiving benefits if you have been divorced for two or more years.
Otherwise, there is no advantage or disadvantage as to when you should file for divorce as it relates to Social Security benefits.
Keep in mind that you must have been married for 10 years or longer, you cant currently be married and must meet other qualifying conditions based on your personal circumstances.
The Wives Of Johnny Carson
What happens if your ex happens to have 2 other exes and also a current spouse? Are you eligible for any benefits when they die?
This was the case with former late-night TV talk show host Johnny Carson, who was married 4 times. His first marriage lasted about 15 years the second, 9 years and the third, 13 years. The fourth marriage was intact when he died in 2005 and lasted 18 years. Assuming the ex-spouse rules were the same as today, his first and third wives were eligible to claim as ex-spouses on Johnny’s PIA . Because the second marriage lasted only 9 years, she unfortunately could not file for spousal benefits.
When Johnny died, his fourth and current wife would “step in his shoes” and receive the same monthly amount that Johnny had been receiving the 2 qualifying ex-spouses were also eligible to step in his shoes as surviving ex-spouses who met the qualifications. In this case, it is likely that all 3 women were receiving the same survivor benefit amount.
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Documents You May Need To Provide
We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
- U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
- W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year.
- Final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse and
We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate.
Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.
How Much Will Your Divorced Spouse Receive
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 continuous years.
If your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
If your ex-spouse was born before January 2, 1954, and has already reached full retirement age, they can choose to receive only the divorced spouses benefit and delay receiving their own retirement benefit until a later date.
If your ex-spouses birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If your ex-spouse files for one benefit, they will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits.
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