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Social Security and Divorce: Can You Still Collect Spousal Benefits?

Married couples have an advantage when it comes to Social Security. It’s called the “spousal benefit” and it allows the lower-earning spouse to collect up to 50% of the higher-earning spouse’s benefit at full retirement age.

For example, if one spouse’s benefit at full retirement age is $2,000 but the other spouse’s benefit is only $750 based on her or his own work history, the latter can opt to collect the spousal benefit of $1,000 instead at full retirement age (as long as the first spouse is collecting his or her benefit), thereby bringing in $250 more in income each month.

Even if you’re divorced, you might still have the ability to collect Social Security spousal benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings. To qualify, all of the following must be true:

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years
  • You are currently unmarried
  • You are age 62 or older
  • Your former spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits
  • Your own benefit is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work history

There also are other factors that could affect your spousal benefits, such as if you were born before 1954, whether your ex-spouse has applied for retirement benefits yet, and whether you have reached full retirement age. For complete details, visit or schedule an appointment at your local Social Security office.

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Important disclosures:

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.


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