Social Security benefits cannot be divided by the court during a divorce like other assets, according to Nolo. The Social Security Administration applies the rules governing divorce and Social Security benefits to divorced couples when each individual claims Social Security benefits.
The Social Security Administration explains that an ex-wife can collect Social Security benefits on her previous husband's work record or disability benefits if the following rules apply: the couple was married for 10 years or more; the amount of benefit she can claim on her own work record is less than what she can claim on her ex-husband's; she has not remarried; and she is age 62 or older. The worker's benefits, the husband in this example, are not reduced by the ex-wife's claim, even if the man has remarried. The same rules apply if the worker whose Social Security benefits are being claimed is the wife.
Once a couple is divorced for two years, an ex-wife who is age 62 or older can collect Social Security benefits on her ex-husband's record, even if her ex-husband has not claimed his benefits. Generally, the amount of Social Security an ex-wife receives equals one-half of the worker's full retirement benefit if the ex-wife claims benefits at her own full retirement age. Workers who receive pensions from certain types of work exempted from Social Security, such as government or foreign work, may find that the Social Security benefits they can claim on an ex-spouses record are affected.