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Collecting Your Spouse's Social Security After Divorce

Posted on in Property Division

Collecting Your Spouse's Social Security After DivorceRetirement benefits are marital assets that can be divided during a divorce. Negotiating the division of these benefits can be contentious because of their high value and the significance they serve later in your life. Obtaining a share of your spouse’s retirement benefits may mean sacrificing other marital properties as equal compensation. However, Social Security benefits work differently than other retirement benefits. You can collect a portion of your former spouse’s Social Security benefits without it affecting the benefits that he or she receives.

How It Works

You can receive as much as half of the value of your former spouse’s Social Security payments, depending on how close you are to the full retirement age. In order to qualify:

  • You must have been married to your former spouse for at least 10 years;
  • You must be unmarried;
  • You must be at least age 62;
  • Your former spouse must be eligible to receive the benefits; and
  • Your own Social Security benefits must be less than what you would receive from your spouse.

Full retirement is at age 67 if you were born in 1960 or later. The age is 66 if you were born between 1943 and 1954 and goes up by two months for each subsequent birth year until 1960. Your former spouse does not need to be collecting on his or her benefits in order for you to start collecting. If you have more than one former spouse, you can choose the benefits that are most valuable.


Receiving a portion of your former spouse’s Social Security benefits is most helpful if your spouse was paying significantly more into Social Security than you were. Keep in mind that:

  • Collecting part of your former spouse’s Social Security benefits would be in place of collecting your own. The purpose is to make sure you are collecting the maximum benefits possible and not to supplement your own benefits;
  • You will receive a smaller percentage of the benefits if you start collecting before you reach your full retirement age. The benefits start at 35 percent if you are age 62 and gradually increase each year until you reach 50 percent at your full retirement age; and
  • If you are receiving a government pension, your Social Security monthly payments may be reduced by two-thirds of the value of your pension payments.

Retirement Options

A divorce can disrupt your retirement plans and potentially leave you financially vulnerable. A Barrington, Illinois, divorce attorney at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can help you collect assets in your divorce to secure your future. Schedule a consultation by calling 847-381-8700.


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