Serving Indiana Since 1994

Understanding eligibility for a former spouse’s Social Security

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2023 | Divorce

When your Indiana marriage ends and your one-time partner was the main breadwinner in your relationship, you may question whether you are going to have enough money available to maintain your current lifestyle after you retire. Many people in your shoes do not realize that they may have the option of collecting Social Security retirement benefits using a former partner’s earnings history after a divorce, provided they meet certain eligibility terms.

CNBC notes that about 30% of people across America do not know they may be able to claim spousal benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration after a divorce.

What makes you eligible

Two things have to hold true for you to be able to claim Social Security using the work record of your ex-husband or ex-wife. First, he or she must be eligible for these benefits based on past earnings and age. Second, your marriage to the qualifying party must have lasted for at least 10 years. If both circumstances ring true, you may claim these benefits using your former partner’s name. However, doing so limits you to collecting 50%, at most, of how much your former spouse gets each month.

When a former spouse dies

Say you decide to collect these benefits based on your former partner’s earnings record and then your former partner dies. In this scenario, you may be able to collect the full amount your former spouse received each month, provided you have not remarried yourself.

Whether claiming these benefits under your ex’s work history makes financial sense depends on whether your own work history also makes you eligible for these benefits and how much you stand to collect if it does.