The following article was published on the SSA blog.
No doubt about it — thinking of an ex-spouse can be emotional. And, if your finances have changed for the worse since the breakup, even more emotions can surface.
We have news that may relieve some of your stress…
If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record.
There are other rules, of course. You must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you’ve remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both.
You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you have been divorced at least two years before applying. After you reach full retirement age, you can elect to receive only the divorced spouse benefits and delay benefits on your own record, which may mean a higher monthly amount for you. If you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement or disability benefit amount.
The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse. The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the benefits your ex-spouse or his or her current spouse receives. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you can still qualify for widow’s benefits.
Our Benefits Planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you can still qualify for widow’s benefits. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse.