Many people depend on social security, yet those that are divorced may not know if they are entitled to their former spouse’s retirement earnings.
The good news is that a former spouse can collect from his or her ex under certain circumstances:
- The couple was married for at least ten years.
- The spouse trying to collect funds has not remarried.
- Said spouse is at least 62 years old.
- The ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits in the first place.
Necessary Conditions for Applying for Your Ex’s Social Security Benefits
You are entitled to collect half of your ex’s benefits even if he or she is not yet collecting; however, you must be divorced for a minimum of two years.
When applying for your ex’s Social Security benefits, understand that you can only claim 50 percent of the amount due that he or she will receive at the age of 66, which is considered full retirement age. You also need to be 66 years old to make such a claim. If you file for your spouse’s benefits before the age of 66, your payments will be prorated and lower by possibly as much as 32 percent.
If you do not want to wait until you are 66 years old to collect, you can begin applying three months before your 62nd birthday. Either go online or visit your local Social Security office.
You can either collect your own Social Security benefits or file for a share of your ex-spouse’s earnings, but you cannot collect both amounts. You should file for whichever amount is greater.
If your ex-spouse qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits, you were married for at least 10 years, and you’re not remarried, you may be eligible to claim on your ex’s earnings record.
What Amount Can You Collect?
You are entitled to half of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, but if you are uncertain what that amount will be, you can simply check the Social Security website, or, if you and your ex are on reasonable terms, simply ask him or her what amount he or she is expecting upon retirement.
When you file for Social Security, you file for all the benefits for which you’re eligible, including divorced spousal benefits. So even if you don’t know your former spouse’s Social Security number, you can still file for and receive divorced spousal benefits.
If you don’t know or can’t remember your ex’s Social Security number, simply provide his or her name, date of birth, place of birth, and his or her parents’ names.
The SSA can give you the amounts you will be entitled to collect beginning at the age of 62 through age 70, and the years in-between. This may help you determine when to file an actual claim. Keep in mind that there will be a considerable difference in payment depending on you age when you file for benefits.
If Your Ex Is No Longer Alive
If you’re a survivor, albeit divorced, you may be entitled to the full amount of Social Security benefits that would have been due to your ex – assuming all the other requirements are met. Survivor benefits can begin at the age of 60. If you are disabled, you can start collecting at the age of 50.
What Will You Need to Collect an Ex’s Social Security?
You will likely need to provide the following documents when applying for your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship or alien status
- If applicable, U.S. military discharge papers.
- W-2 documents and the previous year’s tax returns.
- Marriage certificate
- Final divorce decree
There are several available options when it comes to applying for Social Security benefits. To maximize the amount you will be receiving, you may wish to meet with an accountant before you apply.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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