Divorced-Spouse Social Security Benefits: 8 Rules
1.) Ex-spouse must be at least 62
The worker on whose record the benefit is being claimed must be at least age 62. If the divorce occurred more than two years prior, the worker does not need to have filed for his or her own retirement.
2.) 50% of primary amount
If the divorced-spouse benefit is claimed at full retirement age or later, it will be 50% of the worker’s primary insurance amount (PIA).
3.) Your own benefit comes first
If the divorced person also qualified for a benefit on her work record, she will be paid her own benefit first. If her PIA is less than half of his PIA, she will receive that difference in addition to her own benefit.
4.) Restricted application
A divorced person who was born before January 2, 1954, who has not previously filed for benefits can file a restricted application for the divorced-spouse benefit at FRA and let their own benefit build delayed credits to age 70. The other spouse can do the same: two ex-spouses can each file on the other’s record at the same time (providing it’s been at least two years since the divorce).
5.) Divorced twice
A person who has been divorced twice can choose the higher of the two divorced-spouse benefits, as long as each marriage lasted at least 10 years and the applicant is currently unmarried. But remember… if she also qualifies for a benefit on her own work record she must take that benefit first (unless grandfathered for restricted application by being born before 1954). And… if she has been divorced less than two years the ex must have filed for his benefit.
6.) Ex-spouse in deceased
If an ex-spouse is deceased, a divorced person can receive a divorced-spouse survivor benefit based on the ex-spouse’s record, providing the applicant is currently unmarried or remarried after age 60.
7.) Government Pension Offset
If the person applying for the divorced-spouse benefit worked in a non-Social-Security-covered job, the divorced-spouse benefit will be reduced by two-thirds of the amount of her pension under the Government Pension Offset. This will likely reduce it to zero.
8.) Married, divorced, remarried – and divorced again
If a couple has married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again, the two marriages can be added together (including the time before the end of the calendar year following divorce.)