Social Security benefits are an important part of many people’s retirement plans. As such, maximizing benefits is a common goal for many couples in Florida, especially when nearing retirement age or going through a divorce. There are certain circumstances where the Social Security Administration can allow you to claim benefits from a former spouse’s Social Security record.
Eligibility for Social Security benefits after divorce
Separating from your spouse doesn’t end Social Security eligibility for the ex-spouse. If you were legally married for a long time, you could still receive benefits if you meet the following criteria:
- You are at least 62 years old and not currently married
- Your ex-spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits
- You would receive fewer benefits based on your own work record than you would based on your former spouse’s record
- Your marriage lasted for at least ten years before finalizing the divorce.
If your former spouse dies, you may still be able to collect Social Security benefits. The SSA will consider your marital history during the month of the former spouse’s death to determine eligibility. If applicable, you can receive a one-time lump sum death benefit equal to 1/2 of your ex’s primary insurance amount (PIA).
If your divorced spouse remarries, you are still eligible to receive Social Security benefits from the original marriage. The marriage of your ex-spouse will not change your eligibility or the amount of benefit that you may receive.
How to apply
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for benefits at your local Social Security office or online (SSA.gov). The Social Security Administration (SSA) will require your marriage certificate, proof of divorce, your former spouse’s work record and your Social Security number to process the application.
They will also assume that you are applying for benefits on your record first. If the benefits you receive based on your work record are lower than if filing for an ex-spouse’s, SSA will automatically consider it and award you any extra money that is due to you.
Receiving Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse can be a great way to maximize retirement income. While eligibility rules may be strict, understanding your rights and taking the time to apply correctly can lead to increased financial security in later years.