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Divorce & Social Security Spousal Benefits: What Might Surprise You

Many people assume that, once they divorce, they couldn’t possibly claim spousal benefits on their ex-partner’s earnings. However, that isn’t necessarily true; in some circumstances, you can claim spousal benefits after divorce, even if your ex has remarried.

There are a number of factors involved in determining whether one can continue to claim spousal benefits after divorce, such as how long you were married to your ex and how long you have been divorced. For example, you must have been married for at least 10 years and divorced for at least two in order to apply to receive your ex’s benefits. However, there are some important, additional considerations to keep in mind if this is something you plan to pursue.

Length of Marriage

For one, in order to claim these benefits, you have to officially document that your marriage lasted 10 years. To do so, you have to present your marriage certificate and divorce decree; thus, there are choices and strategies that can help you meet that 10-year requirement, such as establishing a longer legal separation versus jumping into divorce; in doing so, you were technically still married for more years, thus helping you meet that 10-year minimum.


Another important factor to take into account is what happens if you wish to remarry. While, in most circumstances, you cannot claim benefits on your ex-spouse’s earnings if you remarry, if your ex has passed away and you do not remarry until after the age of 60, you can. In addition, if you were married and divorced more than once, you can actually choose which benefit (that corresponds with which ex) you wish to claim (of course, as long as all of the other requirements apply, such as the marriages lasting at least 10 years).

Age Considerations

It is important to note that if you start receiving benefits before full retirement age, the benefits will be reduced to compensate for those earlier payments. You could also end up owing money if you make more than a certain amount in earned income before full retirement age. Thus, it is important to not only consult with an attorney, but potentially a financial analyst as well, in order to make sure that you are making strategic choices as to when you collect benefits.


Many people ask us how they can find out more about ex-spousal benefits when they are no longer in touch with their ex. Your local Social Security office can typically answer questions about eligibility, and your attorney can help you figure out how to gather the other facts.

If You Have Questions

If you have questions about any aspects of the divorce process–including what will happen to spousal benefits–contact us today at the office of Sandra Bonfiglio. We are here to provide compassionate representation and legal guidance to clients in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Broward County, and surrounding areas.

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