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Divorcees: Did You Know You May Be Eligible for Social Security Benefits Based on Your Former Spouse’s Earnings?


Many people don’t realize that they may be able to get a percentage of their former spouse’s Social Security benefits. For seniors who may be contemplating divorce, this could address concerns about how to make ends meet following a split. Gray divorce is becoming more common these days, so there are plenty of people in the same boat—they took care of the family for years, earning little or nothing from work outside the home.  That means they are not entitled to much in the way of Social Security payments upon retirement. One income source many may not have considered is what they might get from the Social Security Administration related to a former spouse’s income. There are, in fact, nearly 700,000 Americans currently enjoying these benefits, and they are based completely on earnings.

Benefits to Divorcees 

Almost half of people who are approaching retirement age do not know that if they’re divorced, they may be able to collect benefits from Social Security based on their former spouse’s earnings. Yes, seniors aged 62+, may be eligible to receive more than 30 percent of the benefit calculated from a former spouse’s lifetime earnings. That percentage rises monthly until it hits 50 percent if individuals start collecting at full retirement age.

You Should Know…

Here are some interesting and beneficial facts worth knowing:

  • These benefits are available to anyone who was married for 10 years or more.
  • Any lesser earning spouse may be eligible for the benefit, including spouses in LGBT marriages.
  • Remarried individuals are not eligible for this benefit (unless they divorce, in which case they may be entitled to either divorced spouse’s benefits if the marriages lasted 10+ years).
  • Seniors are eligible for this divorced-spouse benefit if the amount is greater than the benefit based on their own record of personal earnings.
  • Divorcees may receive the highest of the two amounts (their former spouse’s percentage or their own earnings amount).
  • Former spouses whose earnings are used to calculate a divorcee’s benefit will not be impacted in any way; in truth, they will never be notified by SSA and their own benefit will not be reduced.
  • The benefit is available to divorcees if their former spouse is of eligible age, even if the earner is not yet collecting, as long as the divorce occurred at least two ago.
  • The typical retirement benefit awarded to divorced spouses is more than $900 monthly.
  • If a former spouse qualifies for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement benefits, those may be available as well.
  • The average disability benefit received by divorcees is $400+ monthly.
  • Social Security survivor benefits average over $1,600 per month for divorcees (available at age 60).
  • A divorcee may receive an average of around $900 in survival disability benefits (available at age 50).
  • Divorced spouses are entitled to support for disabled children of all ages averaging over $1,100 per month in survival benefits.

Earning Limits 

Earners making just over $21,000 will see benefits as a divorced spouse reduced by $1 for every $2 earned over that amount, and $1 for every $3 earned over roughly $56,500 if they are not yet retirement age themselves.

Working Out the Details 

For the experienced Boca Raton divorce attorneys at the WiseLieberman dealing with issues related to gray divorce is an everyday event.  Let us help with this, and all your divorce needs.  To discuss your circumstances, contact our office today for a confidential consultation.

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