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Can I Collect Social Security Benefits After My Divorce?

When couples remain married for a number of years and then divorce, one of the issues they should be aware of is the effect of the divorce on any benefits they may receive in the future. One such benefit is any payment provided under the Social Security program. Later in life, this program provides many with much needed income to assist them with ordinary living expenses. Often, this may be the only income a retired person may have.

After your divorce, even if you have never worked, you may still be able to collect benefits under the Social Security program based on the wages and other earnings of your former spouse.

Generally, the Social Security program requires the following for a divorced spouse to collect based on the earnings of an ex-spouse:

  • Your marriage to your ex must have lasted for ten years
  • You must be at least age 62
  • You must not be currently married
  • You must not be eligible for an award of social security that would exceed the amount you would collect based upon the earnings of your former spouse.

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for benefits based on the earnings of your ex-spouse. Even if your ex remarries, you are entitled to receive benefits. It may be best for you to wait until you reach what Social Security defines as your full retirement age prior to applying for benefits. This allows you to maximize the payments you receive. Your collection of benefits based on the amount your ex paid into the Social Security system will not reduce the amount of benefits that your ex can collect.

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