Whether you are ready to divorce or already divorced, it’s important to understand what you may be entitled to.
To receive your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits the following criteria must be met:
You were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years
Your ex-spouse is receiving (or will be receiving Social Security benefits)
You aren’t currently married
You are at least 62 years old
There are a couple exceptions to the criteria which may make you eligible, such as:
If your marriage did not last 10 years, but you are caring for your ex-spouse’s child who is less than 16 years old or is disabled.
If you are not 62 years old, but you are caring for your ex-spouse’s child who is less than 16 years old or is disabled. You may claim at any age if you fit into this exception.
You remarried, but are no longer married due to an annulment, divorce, or death.
You remarried after you turned 60 years old and your ex-spouse is deceased.
However, the caveat is that Social Security will not pay you double the benefits. This means that you will receive the greater of your benefit and half of your spouse’s benefit.
For example, Lucy and Bob were married for 30 years. Lucy is 65 years old and receives $1000.00 in Social Security benefits monthly. Bob is 67 years old and receives $200.00 in benefits monthly. Half of Lucy’s benefit, $500.00, is greater than Bob’s. Therefore, Bob could receive $500.00 a month instead of his $200.00 a month.
Social Security will not give Bob his $200.00 plus half of Lucy’s. It will give him one or the other.
Lucy cannot receive half of Bob’s benefit because her $1000.00 is greater than Bob’s $200.00.
Now let’s imagine that Lucy is 60 years old and Bob is 65. In this instance, Bob would have to wait until Lucy turns 62 to start receiving half of her benefits.
Perhaps the situation is more like this: Lucy is 54, Bob is 63, and their adopted child is 12. Even though Lucy is not 62 years old, she can still receive half of Bob’s benefit since she is caring for his child.