If you’re eligible for divorce benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can collect up to 50% of the amount your former spouse is eligible to receive by claiming your benefits at his or her full retirement age (FRA).
Your FRA is either 66, 66 plus a few months, or 67, depending on the year you were born. The earliest you can claim Social Security benefits is 62. If you claim benefits before your FRA, your Social Security benefits will be permanently reduced by as much as 30%. You can only receive your full Social Security benefit amount if you claim benefits at your FRA.
You cannot double dip
If you were married for at least 10 years, you may be able to collect divorce benefits even if you’re eligible for Social Security benefits based on your own work record. If you meet all the eligibility requirements to receive divorce benefits under Social Security, you can collect 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefit amount. Here’s how it works,
- If you are entitled to your own benefits, Social Security will pay out your benefit amount first. For example, based on your own work record and claiming at your FRA, let’s say you’re entitled to $800 per month in Social Security benefits. Your ex-spouse is entitled to $2,000 (based on your ex’s work record and claiming benefits at his or her FRA) per month in Social Security benefits.
- Next, if you’re entitled to additional benefits based on your former spouse’s work record, you’ll receive extra money each month on top of your benefit amount. Continuing with the example from above, if you meet all the eligibility requirements to receive divorce benefits, you can collect 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefit amount – or $1,000 per month in this case. The Social Security Administration will pay out your $800 per month first, then you’ll receive an additional $200 per month in divorce benefits for a total of $1,000 per month.
You won’t receive $1,800, or “double dip” by receiving your full retirement benefit as well as your former spouse’s full retirement benefit.
If you think you may be entitled to divorce benefits, let the Social Security Administration know. Eligibility requirements are complex. They may not know your marital history. When claiming your Social Security benefits for the first time, make sure you provide them with your marital history. If you have already filed and are not sure if your current benefit amount includes the divorce benefit, seek a review of your benefits from the Social Security Administration.