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Social Security Ex-Spouse Benefits and You

Posted by Shanna Tingom, AAMS® on Mar 18, 2016 3:55:57 PM

When we talk about retirement planning, I will ask you if you have any ex-spouses and how long you were married. This isn’t to dredge up old memories or make you think about the money you lost in the divorce. I promise. I am asking because you may be eligible for Social Security ex-spouse benefits. If you are, that can change how we plan your retirement.

The most recent changes to Social Security could benefit you, even as an ex-spouse.

Here’s who is qualified to receive Social Security ex-spouse benefits:

  • You were married for more than 10 years.
  • You are unmarried (even if your ex-spouse is married).
  • You are age 62 or older.
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • and the benefit you’re eligible to receive is less than what you’d receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.

You can collect on your ex-spouse’s record even if they haven’t applied if you’ve been divorced for more than two years.


If you remarry, you may not be eligible to collect benefits unless your later marriage ended by death, divorce, or annulment.

If you’re eligible for ex-spouse benefits, you may delay receiving your own if the amount is higher. You can collect one but not both.

There are scenarios where you may qualify for benefits from two spouses. You cannot receive benefits from two deceased spouses at the same time. You would work with the Social Security Administration to determine whose benefits are the highest amount - you, your first spouse, or your second spouse - and that is the amount you would receive.

How it Impacts Financial Planning

As your financial professional it is important for me to understand as much about your life as possible so that we develop a plan that works for you, especially when it comes to retirement planning. If you’re eligible for ex-spouse benefits, you will need to take less from retirement investment accounts which means we may invest it differently.

If you’d like your investments reviewed, including retirement, contact us at Heritage Financial Strategies today!

Find Out If You Are Prepared For Retirement