Confusion About Divorced Benefits

Posted on by hgasaway Leave a comment

If you were married 10 years or longer, are currently single, having been divorced for two years, were born on or before January 1, 1954 and have not filed for your Social Security benefit, this article is about you and for you.

Divorced spouses, if they fall into the category above, have more claiming options than their married counterparts. One of the spouses in a married couple can file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits, if born on or before January 1, 1954. But the other party has to have filed for their benefits in order for this strategy to work.

This is not true with divorced couples. As long as your marriage lasted 10 years, has been legally dissolved over 2 years, each are still single, then each party is considered to be “independently entitled” spouses. What does this mean? It means that if both spouses are at least 62 years old, they can claim Social Security benefits on an ex’s benefits record even if the ex-spouse has not yet claimed benefits. So, the other benefit is that while the divorced spouses that qualify are filling off their ex-spouses’ benefit, their benefit is growing by 8% per year until they decide to file.

When did these rules change? Before 1985, divorced spouses were subject to the same requirement as a current spouse. That is, the worker had to apply for Social Security before a benefit was made available to his or her divorced spouse. It was determined by Congress that many ex-spouses were holding grudges against their former spouses and to keep them from applying for benefits off of their records, thus they were waiting until later to file instead of sooner. This caused great hardship for many ex-spouses, usually women. Instead of allowing these ex-spouses to have to file for public assistance and eliminating them being held hostage to their ex-spouses filing decision, the law was changed.

Now, if over age 62, and meeting all the other age and length of marriage and divorce requirements, this exception is in place for those that qualify.
Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!

Divorce, Remarriage and Social Security Benefits

Posted on by Diane Thompson Leave a comment

What benefits are available and when? It depends. Social Security is very complicated at best with over 2,728 rules and regulations. We find ourselves using the word “depends” over and over – but, case in point as to why this benefit should be professionally reviewed before filing.

The BASICS – as long as you were married at least 10 years, are divorced and currently single, are age 62 or older, you can collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s earnings record just as if you were still married, even if your ex has remarried. A spousal benefit is worth 50% of the worker’s benefit if claimed at age 66 or older, and a reduced benefit if taken earlier than age 66.

Now to the EXCEPTIONS to the rules:

  1. The law was changed on November 2, 2015, and only those turning age 62 by this date, can take advantage of this claiming strategy.
  2. If you wait until age 66, you can file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits. This will allow you to collect only Spousal Benefits for up to 4 years, while your own benefit grows at 8% per year up to age 70. Then you can switch to your own increased benefit amount.
  3. If you are also entitled to benefits on your own work record and you claim before age 66, Social Security will only pay you a Spousal Benefit if it is larger than your own.
  4. Divorced spouses can each claim spousal benefits on their ex’s earnings record, assuming they are old enough to be grandfathered under the old rules.
  5. If you have been divorced at least two years, you are “independently entitled” to benefits. This means you can claim benefits from your former spouse even if that spouse has not yet filed for his/her Social Security benefits. Both must be at least 62 years of age.
  6. If you wait until age 60 to remarry, you can collect survivor benefits if your ex-spouse dies.

Without exception, Divorced Social Security benefits calculations are the most complicated of cases we review – simply because there are many rules and exceptions to deal with. We highly recommend that all divorced individuals have their benefits professionally reviewed before claiming. Contact us at 601-954-0699 or visit our website at Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a retired CPA.