How does divorce impact Social Security benefits?


Quick Answer

Divorced spouses can receive Social Security benefits on their ex-spouses' work records if they were married at least 10 years, remain unmarried and are at least 62 years old, reports the Social Security Administration. At full retirement age, divorced spouses receive half of their ex-spouse's retirement or disability benefit.

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Full Answer

Divorced spouses can receive benefits even if their ex-spouses remarry, explains the Social Security Administration. However, if the divorced spouses remarry, they no longer qualify for their ex-spouse's benefits until the marriage ends and they become single again. Divorced spouses can receive benefits even if ex-spouses do not collect benefits, as long as the ex-spouses qualify for them and the couple has been divorced for at least two years. If divorced spouses choose to begin receiving benefits early, between age 62 and full retirement age, they receive a reduced monthly amount.

If divorced spouses are entitled to Social Security benefits on their own work record as well as benefits from ex-spouses, they receive their own benefits first, but if the benefit from the ex-spouse is higher, they receive a combination of benefits totaling the higher amount, according to the Social Security Administration. Divorced spouses can also elect to receive their ex-spouses' benefits early and delay receiving their own benefits to accumulate delayed retirement credits.

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