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Social Security: Can You Get 50% of Your Ex-Spouse's Benefits?

Most people know that the Social Security Administration provides spousal benefits stemming from the primary breadwinner's work history. But what isn't as well understood is that these benefits don't necessarily end with a divorce.

To determine whether you qualify for spousal benefits from a prior marriage, there are six standards you need to satisfy.

  1. Your former spouse must be entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits.
  2. You have filed an application for the divorced spouse's benefits.
  3. You are not entitled to a retirement or disability insurance benefit based on a primary insurance amount that equals or exceeds one-half the worker's primary insurance amount.
  4. You are at least 62 years old.
  5. You are not currently married.
  6. You were married to the worker for at least 10 years before the date the divorce became final.

As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield expands on in the following video, so long as you meet these standards, then you're entitled to as much as 50% of your former spouse's primary insurance amount.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (33)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 19, 2014, at 10:41 AM, exparte5 wrote:

    Rule #3 only applies if you have not yet reached full retirement age (FRA) - after FRA (which today is 66) you have the option of taking the full 50% of your ex-spouses benefit and not take your own benefit until later thereby increasing your own benefit by accumulating delayed retirement credits (DRCs) even though your own Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) exceeds 50% of your ex-spouses PIA.

  • Report this Comment On July 19, 2014, at 10:59 AM, gskinner75006 wrote:

    Better yet, just claim a hang nail on go on disability. More time for cruising!

  • Report this Comment On July 19, 2014, at 11:11 AM, crawlfish wrote:

    My wife is little over four years older than me. And does not have enough Social Security credits for her own benefit. She cannot get a spouse benefit until I am retired. And she will be over her full retirement age before I turn 62 years old and can take my benefit. She will not get any delayed retirement credits pass her full retirement age of 66yrs old. I have spread sheeted taking taking our benefits at different times. Short story if I delay until age 66 my full retirement age our break even point for waiting would be 86 for me and ninety for her. The odds of living that long are not in our favour. I would recommend doing a spread sheet of your own or hiring some one to do a projection of your unique circumstance. This is complicated stuff.

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John Maxfield

John is The Motley Fool's senior banking specialist. If you're interested in banking and/or finance, you should follow him on Twitter.

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