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Ask Bob: Can I Claim Social Security Benefits Under My Ex-Spouse, Even If I've Started My Own Benefits?

Our Social Security expert answers this reader's question about how divorced spouse benefits operate.

Question

I have been getting Social Security since I was 63. I am 65 now. My full benefit date is 66.5 years. My former spouse, married 25 years, divorced over 16 years, started collecting at his full date, last year. Can I get my amount changed to half of his, even if I have been receiving Social Security for two years?

Answer

Because you were married for over 10 years and divorced for over 2 years, you actually have what is called Independent Entitlement as a divorced spouse, explains Matthew Allen, CEO, Social Security Advisors. “What that means is that you did not need to wait for your ex-spouse to claim benefits before potentially being eligible on his record as well,” says Allen, “he just had to be at least 62 for you to be able to use the Independent Entitlement rule.” He adds, “If you applied two years ago (when your ex-spouse was already over 62), the Social Security Administration should have evaluated at the time of your filing whether you can possibly receive any additional money as an ex-spouse based on your ex-spouse’s earnings history.”

What is supposed to happen at the Social Security Administration and what does happen however are often two different things. “I would recommend speaking with a Social Security Advisor that could definitively help you determine if the Social Security Administration made a mistake in the monthly benefit amount they are paying you,” says Allen. “If they did make a mistake, you are normally provided with a 60-day window to file a Request for Reconsideration (an appeal), however, if it is the Social Security Administration’s mistake, then the normal appeal deadline does not apply and this could still be fixed if they did make a mistake.”

Got questions? Get answers!

Email Robert.Powell@thearenagroup.net.


The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement.
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Question

I have been getting Social Security since I was 63. I am 65 now. My full benefit date is 66.5 years. My former spouse, married 25 years, divorced over 16 years, started collecting at his full date, last year. Can I get my amount changed to half of his, even if I have been receiving Social Security for two years?

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