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Ex-Spouses May Receive Benefits

September 29, 2017 Blog

If you have already divorced (or are currently navigating the process of divorce) but your ex-spouse is or will receive a Social Security benefit, then you may be entitled to receive benefits as a matter of law.

Importantly, however, there’s no need for the qualifying worker (on whose work record the ex-spouse will be obtaining benefits) to be concerned about whether the ex-spouse will in some way limit their own benefits.  In fact, Social Security benefits are categorized as income and not assets (marital or personal) and therefore cannot be divided between the former spouses.  If your ex-spouse already receives Social Security benefits, for example, your application to receive a benefit will not reduce their own benefit — instead, a new benefit will simply be provided.

To understand how ex-spouse benefits work, it’s worth understanding spousal benefits first.

Spousal Benefits

In general, spouses are entitled to receive a retirement benefit on the basis of the total accumulated “work credits” of their spouse.  This spousal retirement benefit only pays out half of the working spouse’s benefit amount, however.  So, for example, if your spouse is entitled to a $700 per month benefit, then you — as a spouse without sufficient work credits to receive benefits of your own — would be entitled to receive half, or $350 per month in benefits.

An Ex-Spouse May Still Qualify

The spousal benefit is still available to ex-spouses.  If you have divorced from your spouse, you may still receive benefits if you meet certain qualifying requirements.  To qualify, an ex-spouse must show that:

  1. they are currently unmarried;
  2. they are at least age 62;
  3. the marriage with the working spouse lasted for at least 10 years; and
  4. that, if they are entitled to receive a benefit for their own work, it is less than the benefit they would receive based on their ex-spouse’s work record.

Ex-spouses are both limited and empowered in certain ways.  You cannot receive benefits on the basis of your ex-spouse’s work record if you have remarried, for example (unless that marriage also ends).  On the other hand, as an ex-spouse, you can receive spousal benefits on the basis of your ex-spouse’s work record, even if the working ex-spouse has not yet applied for benefits of their own.

In the event that you are entitled to retirement benefits of your own, the greater of the two will be paid out (though the overall benefits package will be paid out as a combination of both retirement and spousal benefits).

If you have an ex-spouse, you may be entitled to receive Social Security benefits on the basis of their work record.  Call (813) 264-5363 today to schedule a free consultation with one of the experienced Tampa social security lawyers at the Law Office of Mike Murburg, P.A.

We look forward to helping you secure your Social Security benefits!