Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouse

It is comforting to realize that social security provides a constant and guaranteed source of income for a divorced spouse near retirement. Under social security, if the marriage lasted a long time, it makes you eligible for claiming your benefits.

If you are 62 or older and got divorced, but your marriage lasted for at least ten years, you can receive social security benefits based on ex-spouse earnings. Moreover, based on this rule, if you have not earned enough earnings over your lifetime, you can get even more money. 

If you are unclear on social security benefits as a divorced spouse, read this article to know the eligibility criteria and benefits you would expect to receive from social security.

Eligibility criteria for social security 

Based on the ex-spouse earnings, a divorced spouse must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible for social security benefits:

  1. The marriage must last for at least ten years 
  2. You must be 62 years old 
  3. You must be currently single and should not remarry

If you have remarried, you will not be eligible to claim the benefits. If you got married while you were already receiving the benefits, your eligibility would end.

Furthermore, if your later marriage ends due to divorce, annulment, or your spouse’s death, you can claim again to start receiving social security benefits from your ex-spouse. 

Keep in mind that your ex-spouse’s marital status will not affect your eligibility. For you to be eligible for social security, your ex-spouse must have worked for a long time and must be at least 62 years old (the earliest age for becoming eligible for social security).

If the ex-spouse didn’t apply for benefits and the divorce was finalized about two years ago, you would be eligible to collect benefits

Advantages for the divorced spouse

Here are the benefits you get as a divorced spouse:

  • The maximum benefits you can receive are 50% of what your ex-spouse would be receiving at the full retirement age. This 50% benefit can reduce further if you apply before reaching full retirement age.
  • If the spouse dies, the former/surviving partner may get up to 100% of the survivors’ benefits. 
  • In both cases, the divorced partner must reach the full retirement age to receive full benefits. So, if you filed before reaching full retirement age, the benefit will be reduced permanently. 
  • You are not allowed to choose the two. The social security administration automatically gives the larger of your benefits and ex-spouse benefits. 
  • If the divorced spouse remarried and divorced more than once and each marriage lasted for at least ten years, he will get only one and higher of the two benefits.
  • If you know your ex-spouse’s date of birth and what he earned, you can use an online social security calculator to estimate your ex-spouse benefit amount. However, to find out what exactly will be your social security benefit, you have to ask your ex-spouse for their Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).
  • If the divorced spouse was born before Jan 2, 1954, and waited till the full retirement age, you can opt to receive only ex-spousal benefits and let your benefits accumulate for later use when you reach full retirement age.
  • If the divorced spouse were born on or after Jan 2, 1954, you do not have the option to take one benefit at full retirement age.

Where can I apply for the benefits online?

You can apply for social security benefits online by visiting

If you apply on your former spouse’s record, you need his social security number, date of birth, birthplace, and parent’s name. While you apply on your ex-spousal record, social security assumes that you also applied for benefits on your work record. Eventually, you will receive the higher of the two benefits.