Posted on Jan 14, 2014

In an eye-opening, new report, FoxBusiness outlines how it might be possible for divorcees to maximize their Social Security benefits based upon the work history of their former spouse. This is especially beneficial in cases where the ex-spouse was the primary wage earner. Divorcees who find themselves in this position may be eligible for a higher Social Security benefit based upon the former spouse’s work history rather than their own.

What are the requirements to receive this “divorced spouse” benefit? To start, you must be at least 62 years old. It does not matter how old the ex-spouse is at the time of your application. Further, your ex must either be receiving Social Security disability benefits or eligible to do so. In addition, you must satisfy the following:

  1. You are not married at the time you file.
  2. The marriage to your ex-spouse must have lasted at least 10 years.
  3. If your ex is not yet receiving Social Security, the divorce must have occurred a minimum of two years prior.
  4. Your income cannot exceed the “earning limit.” If it does exceed the limit, it will be reduced $1.00 for every $2.00 that it is above the stated amount.

As with any Social Security benefit, waiting to file until your “full retirement age” will ensure that you receive the highest amount possible. In addition, by waiting, you are entitled to choose whether you want to receive benefits based upon your own earnings record or based upon the divorced spouse benefit. The maximum benefit that you may receive is 50% of the amount that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive at full retirement age. If you delay filing for your own Social Security benefit and instead opt to collect based upon your former spouse’s, you receive an 8% bonus each year.

If you are interested in learning more about the divorced spouse benefit, be sure gather the proper documentation to prove you were married and divorced to your former spouse. To learn more about applying for Social Security disability benefits in Omaha, follow us on Facebook.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska