Social Security benefits are funds paid to workers who are retired and have paid into the Social Security system during the years they were actively working. At age 62, you are eligible to claim your Social Security benefits. You can claim again at full retirement age and then again at age 70.
Full retirement age is based off of the year you were born and varies from person to person. The Social Security Administration administers the United States Social Security program, which consists of retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits.
After your marriage ends, you may have questions regarding your Social Security benefits and your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. It may surprise you to know you can, in fact, collect a spousal benefit. This spousal benefit is based off your ex-spouse’s Social Security earnings record. There are several qualifications you must meet in order for this to be true. This article explores the qualifications, eligibility and filing requirements that must be met in order for you to be entitled to your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits.
Learn About Qualifications
First you must have been in a marriage that lasted at least ten years with your ex-spouse. It is important to note that you can receive these Social Security benefits even if your spouse has remarried. However, if for any reason you decide to remarry, you cannot collect any benefits on your ex-spouse’s account. Below are the additional qualifications you must meet in order for you to be entitled to your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits.
- You are currently unmarried.
- You are 62 years of age or older.
- The Social Security benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own career must be less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s career.
- Your ex-spouse must be entitled and eligible to Social Security disability or retirement benefits.
Your Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse must be equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full disability amount or retirement benefit amount, if you start receiving benefits at full retirement age. These Social Security benefits do not include any delayed credits for retirement your ex-spouse may receive. If, for any reason, your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but does qualify for the benefits, you can receive benefits if you have been divorced from this spouse for at least two years and you are of retirement age. You may also be able to claim Social Security benefits based on your own work record or collect a spousal benefit that may provide you up to 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit. If you are qualified for both Social Security benefits, you receive whichever is higher.
If you choose to continue working while receiving any Social Security benefits, there is a retirement benefit earnings limit that applies to you. The retirement benefit earnings limit is reviewed each year by the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration has an earnings test calculator available to you to see how those earnings can affect your benefit payments. If you receive a pension based on your work that is not covered by Social Security, like a government position, the Social Security benefits you receive on behalf of your ex-spouse may be affected.
If you collect benefits from your ex-spouse, his or her own benefits are not jeopardized or lessened. Additionally, if your ex-spouse is collecting benefits based on your record, it does not affect your current family benefits or in any way reduce your benefits. If you know around what your ex-spouse earned in his or her career and his or her date of birth, you can use an online Social Security calculator to estimate the monthly benefit.
How to File for Benefits
Filing for Social Security benefits is simple. You can complete an application online or call the Social Security Administration directly if you do not see your desired benefit listed on the application. You can also visit your local Social Security office in person. It is important to know, if you were born before January 2, 1954, and you have already reached full retirement age, you have the choice to receive only your divorced spouse’s benefit and delay your own benefit until a later date of your choosing. If you were born after January 2, 1954, your option to take only one benefit when you reach full retirement age does not exist any longer. When you file for Social Security benefits, you can file for all spousal and retirement benefits at once. You cannot choose which you get unless you are a widow or widower. Special rules apply for widows and widowers.
If you decide to remarry, you cannot collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if you are still married when he or she retires and begins collecting benefits. The only way you would be able to collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record is if your new marriage ends by death, divorce or annulment. Your ex-spouse is not required to file for his or her own Social Security benefits for you to be eligible to receive a benefit based on his or her record.
However, your ex-spouse must be eligible for these benefits. You have the option to file a restricted application, which restricts the scope of your application to only one benefit type. This tells the Social Security office you are not applying for all the benefits you may eligible for. You can accumulate your delayed retirement credits from your full retirement age up until the age of 70. At the age of 70, you can switch to your full owed benefit amount. The strategy is to let your retirement money grow over time.
The amount of benefits you are receiving has no effect on the amount your ex-spouse or his or her current spouse might receive. If your former spouse has died, there is a possibility you may be eligible to file for survivors’ benefits. If you are currently receiving survivors’ benefits, earnings can help make your retirement benefits higher than your survivors’ benefits.
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