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Social Security Divorced Spouse Benefits

A recent New York Times “Retiring” column about how much Social Security money older Americans fail to collect referred to “poorly understood benefits for divorced people and survivors.” Many older adults who have been divorced are unaware that they may still be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits based on a former wife’s or husband’s earnings record.

If you are divorced, in your 60s or older, and don’t have good Social Security benefits of your own, you should explore whether you are eligible to claim a Social Security benefit based on your former spouse’s earnings. There may be an advantage to doing so.

The family law lawyers of Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. in Raleigh can determine whether additional spousal benefits are available to you and help you obtain the benefits you are due. Contact us at (919) 661-9000.

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Divorced Spouse Benefits?

Social Security Divorced Spouse Benefits are paid to divorced spouses of workers who are eligible to receive Social Security benefits. There are certain criteria to qualify, of course.

To be eligible for this benefit, you must:

  • Be at least 62 years old and unmarried
  • Be divorced from a person who receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • Have been married to that person for at least 10 years before the divorce became final
  • Not be entitled to an equal or higher Social Security benefit based on your own employment record.

You can apply for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you have been divorced for at least two years. If your ex is receiving Social Security and all of the above is true for you, you are eligible today.

The amount of Social Security benefits you receive does not affect the benefits of your ex-spouse or their current spouse.

If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who has died, you may be eligible for benefits as a surviving widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. If you remarry after age 60 (age 50 if you have a disability), the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivor’s benefits.

What Information Do I Need to Apply for Divorced Spouse Benefit?

If you qualify for Divorced Spouse Benefits, you can apply when you are at least 61 years and 9 months old. You can apply online or at 1-800-772-1213.

Documents you’ll need to show that you are eligible include:

  • Birth certificate or another record of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
  • U.S. military discharge papers if you served before 1968
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year
  • Final divorce decree
  • Marriage certificate.

You should also have your checkbook or other papers that show your account number at a bank, credit union, or other financial institution to sign up for direct deposit of your benefits.

Contact a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer for Social Security Help

Don’t leave money on the table if you qualify for higher Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s employment record. Please contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. for assistance about how to proceed. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and the potential benefits you may receive in greater detail. To schedule a consultation, call us at (919) 661-9000 today.

About the Author

Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A.
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., our clients work closely with a legal team that is dedicated to providing outstanding client service and unflinching legal representation. The majority of our attorneys and support staff have worked with our firm for many years.

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