All ties aren’t always cut after a divorce, even when it comes to Social Security benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your work record if:
- Your marriage lasted at least 10 years
- Your ex-spouse hasn’t remarried
- Your ex-spouse is 62 or older
- The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their work is less than what they would receive based on your work
- You are entitled to Social security retirement or disability benefits
If you qualify for retirement benefits but haven’t applied, your ex can receive benefits on your record if you have divorced for at least two consecutive years (even if you remarried). The SSA stated that if your former spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record, that will be paid first. Meanwhile, if your benefit is higher, your ex-spouse will receive an additional amount on your record. The combination of benefits will equal that higher amount.
The SSA added that if your ex-spouse was born before January 2, 1954, they can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefit and delay receiving their own benefit. If your ex-spouse was born on or after that date, that option no longer applies and if they file for one benefit, they are filing for retirement or spousal benefits.
However, if your ex continues to work while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to them as they would to you. If they are receiving a pension by work not covered by Social Security, their Social Security benefit on your record may be affected. What your ex receives doesn’t affect what you or what your current spouse will receive.
In general, you can receive up to 50% of the amount your former spouse would receive in benefits at full retirement age, which is 66 years and 2 months, according to Kiplinger. This is not in addition to your own benefit.
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