Ask Bob: Can I Receive Divorced Spousal Social Security Benefits?

Robert Powell, CFP®

Question

I've been on Social Security disability insurance since 2008. My husband and I are now divorced after 23 years of marriage. I'll be 60 next year. Am I able to get a portion of his retirement or Social Security? He is 63, and still working I believe.

Answer

If your disability benefit is less than 50% of your ex-spouse’s primary insurance amount or PIA (that is, the amount he’ll be entitled to if he claims his benefit at his full retirement age) you will become entitled to a divorced-spouse benefit when you turn 62, providing you are still unmarried, says Elaine Floyd, CFP®, director of retirement and life planning at Horsesmouth. 

"If you’re in touch with your ex-spouse, ask him to download his latest Social Security statement from www.ssa.gov/myaccount and check his benefit estimate if he claims at full retirement age," says Floyd. "If you are not in touch, you likely will not be able to get this information until you are ready to apply for the divorced-spouse benefit."

Floyd's advice: A month or two before you turn 62 call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 and tell them you’d like to apply for your divorced-spouse benefit. "They will check the amounts, and if your disability benefit is less than half of his primary insurance amount, you’ll receive that difference, reduced for early claiming," she says. 

FYI: To get the full difference you’d need to wait until your full retirement age of 67 to apply.

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Got Questions?

Email Robert.Powell@Maven.io.

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