It can be a confusing and complicated process to claim your ex’s Social Security benefits. However, if you meet the criteria, you are eligible to receive half of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits.
Understanding Spouses’ Benefits
It is important to know that if you are receiving your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, it will not affect the amount of benefits that he or she receives. Also, even if your ex-spouse remarries, you are still entitled to the Social Security benefits from your previous marriage. In addition, you or your ex-spouse can choose to switch to collecting Social Security benefits from your own earnings record once you turn 62 or older. This is usually the preferred option since you can gain up to 10-15% larger benefits this way. Also, you do not need your ex-spouse’s permission to claim the benefits.
You Must Meet Certain Requirements to Collect Social Security
To qualify for your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be unmarried.
- You must be 62 years old or older.
- You must have been married to your former spouse for at least 10 years.
- Your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security benefits.
- You must have been divorced for 2 years.
- Your former spouse must have earned 10 years of Social Security credits.
- You must not be a participant in a public retirement system, such as OPERS or STRS, otherwise.
- Your spousal Social Security benefits may be reduced.
If you do not meet the above requirements, you are not eligible for your ex-spouse’s benefits. If you do meet the above criteria, you are eligible to receive 50% of your ex-spouse’s Social Security Benefits. Your spouse must be eligible for Social Security retirement and must begin receiving Social Security before spousal Social Security is an option. If you contribute to Social Security, your spousal benefit must be greater than what you would receive from your own benefits, and you cannot receive both. If you participate in a public retirement system, your spousal Social Security benefit is generally reduced by $2 for every $3 in public pension you receive.
Fifty percent of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit is the maximum amount you can receive and assumes your ex-spouse waits until full retirement age to begin receiving Social Security. If the ex-spouse begins receiving Social Security before reaching full retirement age, the spousal Social Security benefit will also be reduced.
What Happens if There’s Another Ex-Spouse?
If your ex-spouse has remarried and divorced, and if the second ex-spouse also meets the criteria, then you will only receive a portion of your former partner’s benefits. If both ex-spouses are eligible to receive benefits from their former spouse, then they will both receive a portion of the benefits based on their age and earnings record.
How Does the Death of an Ex-Spouse Affect the Benefits?
If your former spouse dies, you may still be eligible to receive benefits based on their earning record. The amount of benefits you may receive will depend on the age and earnings record of your deceased former partner. If you are over the age of 60, you may receive the full amount of your ex-spouse’s benefits or a reduced benefit if your deceased ex-spouse was receiving a reduced benefit.
How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
If you meet the requirements and want to apply for your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, you must go to your local Social Security office and fill out an application form. It is important to provide detailed information such as your Social Security number and your ex-spouse’s socialsecurity number, marriage and divorce dates, and financial information. Once you have submitted your application form, the Social Security Administration will review it and if everything is in order, you will begin to receive your benefits as soon as possible. Application forms are also available online at the Social Security Administration’s website.
The amount of these benefits depends on your age, your ex-spouse’s earnings record, and your relationship. Applicants can receive up to 50 percent of their former partner’s benefit if they are of retirement age. If they are disabled and under the age of 62, they can receive a reduced benefit of up to 75 percent.
Social Security and Divorce
Divorces are issued by state courts, and state courts do not have jurisdiction over Social Security benefits. A divorce decree won’t provide for division of Social Security as an asset. A divorce decree also won’t address the issue of spousal Social Security. However, Social Security benefits should be considered as those benefits may be relevant to the terms of the divorce decree, such as a social security offset to a public retirement benefit or spousal support.
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