Broker Check

Social Security Benefits Divorced Spouse

Social Security Benefits for a Divorced Spouse

By Ginita Wall, Second Saturday Co-Founder

The former spouse of an employee who is getting retirement or disability benefits is entitled to a benefit on his record if she is at least 62 years old and they had been married for at least ten years before the divorce. Know the rules about social security and divorce.

A spouse divorced for at least two years can receive a divorced spouse’s benefit at age 62 if her former spouse is eligible for retirement benefits, whether or not the benefits have been claimed by the former spouse.  As long as he is eligible for benefits, she can collect regardless of whether he has retired.  Prior to 1985, a divorced spouse could receive benefits only if her ex-spouse had actually applied for and begun receiving benefits. 

A divorced spouse is entitled to reduced survivors’ benefits after the death of her former spouse if she is at least 60 years old (50 if disabled) and was married to her former spouse for at least ten years before the divorce; she is entitled to full benefits at age 66, or at any age if she is caring for a child who is either under 16 or disabled and who is getting benefits on the same record.  The child must be the spouse’s natural or legally adopted son or daughter.  A divorced spouse can get benefits on the basis of child care only if the former spouse dies.

The rules on remarriage of divorced spouses are the same as those for widows.

Generally, a divorced spouse cannot collect social security under an ex-spouse’s earning record if she remarries before the age of 60. Remarriage after age 60 (or age 50 if she is disabled) will not prevent her from getting benefit payments based on her former spouse’s earnings record. Of course, if her own benefits or benefits based on her new spouse’s earnings record would be higher, she would collect those higher benefits instead.

For further information contact: Social Security Administration:1-800-772-1213 Website(work on computer not cell):

 This article is reprinted with permission from the Women's Institute for Financial Education (, creator of the Second Saturday Divorce Workshops. Founded in 1988, WIFE is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial education for women. Copyright 2019