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Collecting Social Security Benefits From Your Divorced Spouse

Posted on in Divorce
Collecting Social Security Benefits From Your Divorced SpouseDuring a divorce, retirement accounts are considered marital property that can be divided. If your spouse accrued retirement benefits during your marriage, you have a right to an equitable share of those benefits. You may have to negotiate the share you will receive, because your spouse will want to protect his or her retirement assets. However, social security benefits follow a different set of rules. The Social Security Administration allows you to receive half of the value of your former spouse's social security benefits without affecting his or her own benefits.


This may be a less contentious way to get a share of your spouse's retirement benefits after divorce, but not everyone will qualify. In order to receive benefits based on your former spouse's social security:

  • You must have been married for at least 10 years;
  • You must be divorced for at least two years;
  • You must not be married; and
  • Your social security benefits must be less than what you would receive based on your former spouse's benefits.

When Benefits Start

You can begin to receive benefits once you turn 62 and your former spouse is eligible to receive social security benefits. Your former spouse does not need to be collecting social security in order for you start receiving benefits.

Early Withdrawal

The benefits you collect based on your spouse's social security are in place of your own social security benefits. As with your own social security, you will not receive maximum benefits until you reach the full retirement age of 67. A decreasing percentage of your benefits will be withheld each year you collect social security until you reach that age.

Other Rules

The Social Security Administration has various rules established for different scenarios:

  • You are only allowed to collect social security benefits from one former spouse.
  • If your former spouse has died, most of the rules are the same. However, if you remarry before age 60, you are ineligible to receive the benefits.
  • If you have primary allocation of parental responsibilities of your child, you can start receiving your former spouse's social security benefits as soon as he or she is eligible, regardless of your own age or the duration of your marriage.
  • If you are receiving a government pension, the value of two-thirds of your monthly pension payments will be subtracted from your monthly social security payments.

Division of Retirement Assets

Collecting any form of retirement benefits from your former spouse requires complex legal procedures. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC knows how to properly divide marital assets such as retirement accounts. Call 815-338-3838 for a free consultation.



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