Persons who are divorced may still be able to draw social security benefits on your former spouse’s account.

Social Security Retirement Benefits

The requirements for these benefits include:

  • A marriage that lasted 10 years or longer;
  • You have not re-married. If your spouse is deceased, you may still be entitled to benefits if you are over 60 (age 50 if disabled) when you re-marry.
  • You are age 62 or older. If your spouse is deceased, you may receive benefits if you are either 60 years of age, or over 50, and disabled, if the disability began within 7 years of your spouse’s death;
  • The benefit that you would receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on ex’s; and
  • Your ex-spouse has either retired, become disabled, or died. If your spouse is eligible for retirement benefits, but has not applied for them, and you have been divorced for at least two years, you can still receive divorced spouse benefits.

The benefit you receive as a divorced spouse is usually one-half of your ex’s full retirement benefits.

In Pennsylvania, you must make a claim for things like alimony, or distribution of property, before the divorce becomes final. Social Security benefits are an exception to this rule: they are not awarded as a part of a divorce settlement, and will be paid directly by Social Security if you are eligible for them. The only effect that the divorce proceedings have on your benefits is the timing of the divorce: a person who has been married for slightly less than 10 years might want to ask their divorce attorney to delay entering the final decree so that their eligibility is not lost.

As is often the case with Social Security benefits, these rules have a number of twists and turns to them. If you have questions about your individual situation, you should contact your local social security office, or consult an attorney experienced in divorce and social security matters.

Social Security Mother’s or Father’s Benefits

These are benefits paid to the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse of an insured worker. To qualify for these benefits:

  • The other parent must be deceased;
  • That parent had sufficient earnings to qualify for Social Security benefits;
  • You must be unmarried;
  • You were married to the other parent for at least ten years; and
  • You are caring for a child who is under age 16 or disabled and entitled to child’s insurance benefits;


Social Security Child’s Benefits

Benefits for children do not depend on the length of a marriage, or even if their parents were ever married. They are entitled to benefits if:

  • One of their parents who is disabled, retired or deceased;
  • The parent is entitled to Social Security benefits;
  • The child is Unmarried; and
  • The child is either younger than age 18, 18 to 19 years old and a full time High School student, or older than 18, if the child is disabled.


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