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Social Security and Divorce


As an elder eyeing divorce, you may have anxieties about your financial income post-divorce.  Certainly, the income that was once supporting one household is now necessarily going to be divided.  Since Florida is an equitable distribution state, any assets that were accrued during the course of the marriage will be divided based on a number of factors.  Additionally, if your marriage lasted ten years or more, you are entitled to benefits from your spouse’s Social Security earnings, as well.


There are just a few parameters for divorcees who wish to receive Social Security benefits that were earned by a former spouse:

  • The amount you are entitled to based on your own work history is less than the amount you’re eligible for under your former spouse’s record. In the event your former spouse has not yet applied for these benefits, but is eligible for them, you may still apply for them if your divorce occurred at least two years prior.
  • You are unmarried;
  • You are at least 62 years old;
  • Your previous spouse earned Social Security retirement or disability benefits:

If each of these requirements are met, you may apply for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record.

How Much can I Receive? 

If you decide to collect compensation at your full retirement age, you are allowed to receive 50 percent of the allowance your former spouse is eligible to collect from both disability and retirement benefits under Social Security.

If you have earned retirement benefits of your own from Social Security, these retirement remunerations will be paid first.  If your former spouse’s record is more substantial than yours, you are entitled to the combined total.

For individuals born prior to 1954 who have reached full retirement age already, you may wish to collect only your ex-spouse’s benefit and wait to receive your own until later.

Even if you wish to continue working, you may opt to receive retirement benefits from your spouse’s account. However, your earnings, or earnings from a government pension, may impact the amount of benefit you receive from your former spouse’s account.


If you get married again, you are not entitled to your former spouse’s benefits unless your current marriage ends through divorce, death, or annulment.

Will Your Former Spouse Fight This? 

Your filing is a completely separate matter, and will not affect your former spouse and any entitlement for their current or future spouses. To be clear, the amount of benefit you may receive from Social Security on your former spouse’s record will have no impact whatsoever on the amount to which your ex-spouse or their current spouse is entitled.

Your Divorce Lawyer 

Financial questions are one of the key issues that plague individuals looking into divorce.  At WiseLieberman, PLLC, our knowledgeable Boca Raton divorce attorneys can answer questions related to these and other issues.  Contact us today for a confidential consultation.



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