How Divorce Affects Social Security

Here is how your divorce affects social security benefits:

Collect on your ex-spouse’s record

As a divorced spouse you can collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, even if your ex has remarried. Any benefits paid to you will not reduce payments made to your ex.

However, you must meet the following requirements, according to the Social Security Administration: 

  1. You were married for at least 10 consecutive years
  2. You are at least 62 years old
  3. Your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement benefits
  4. You are currently unmarried

If your ex-spouse hasn’t yet applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record provided you have been divorced for at least two years.

In addition, if you have reached full retirement age and are eligible for both a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you may have a choice, depending on your age. If you are at least 62, you will be able to choose which benefit you want at your full retirement age.

If you get remarried, you can’t collect on your former spouse’s record unless your new marriage ends.

Undo Collecting Your Social Security Early

If you start collecting early, at age 62, you get 25 percent smaller monthly payments. However, if you later change your mind, there is a way to bump up your monthly payments even if you already started taking your payments.  Pay it back. If you change your mind within 12 months of signing up for Social Security, you can repay all the money back, without interest, and withdraw your Social Security application. You can then apply for benefits again at a later date, and the payments will then be larger. You can only withdraw your Social Security application once in your lifetime.

When in doubt, I am happy to consult!
Denisa Tova MBA, CFP, CDFA provides divorce financial expertise to divorcing individuals. She is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Certified Financial Planner and Mediator.