The Social Security Administration affords an unmarried ex-spouse the same status as a current husband or wife with regard to spousal benefits. As long as you meet all filing requirements and are single at the time you apply, you can rely on an ex-spouse’s work record whether you start receiving benefits at age 62 or later. However, filing for retirement benefits at age 62 permanently affects how much you’ll receive each month.
Ex-spouse Eligibility Rules
You must meet qualifying criteria to receive retirement or disability payments using your ex-spouse’s work record. As of the time of publication, you must have been married to an ex-spouse who qualifies for Social Security benefits for at least 10 years and be divorced for at least two years. If you remarried during this time, the marriage must have ended by death, divorce or annulment. Finally, the benefit amount you qualify for by relying on your ex-spouse’s work record must be more than you qualify for based on your work record.
How Much to Expect
Applying for benefits before full retirement age, which varies according to your year of birth, permanently reduces monthly payment amounts. The most you can receive if you wait until full retirement age is 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s benefit. For example, if your ex-spouse qualifies to receive $1,500 each month, you’ll get $750. However, applying for benefits at age 62 means you’ll only receive about $487, which is 32.5 percent of your ex-spouse’s monthly benefit. In addition, if you’re still employed, earnings limits can affect benefit payments and have income tax consequences.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.