Ask Rusty: Divorced Multiple Times

by AMAC-Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor

Dear Rusty:
Reading your current letter regarding Social Security benefits for exspouses, I pose this question: Would an individual who has had multiple marriages be entitled to distributions of Social Security for each of his or her marriages? Signed, Thrice Divorced

Dear Confused:
No, I’m afraid that you are entitled to benefits from only one of your marriages, so obviously you would want to pick the one which gives you the greatest benefit. That would normally be from the ex-spouse who was entitled to the highest benefit based upon his or her own lifetime work record. You would have to be at least 62, have been married to that exspouse for at least 10 years and not be currently married to receive benefits on your exspouse’s work record. Also, any benefit you are entitled to as an exspouse would need to be more than you are entitled to on your own work record; otherwise you will only receive what you are entitled on your own work record. You can apply for benefits on an ex-spouse’s record even if your exspouse is not yet collecting Social Security, if you have been divorced for at least two years and if they are at least eligible to collect (at least age 62 or re-ceiving SSDI).

If you were born before January 2, 1954 and have not yet filed, you can wait until your own full retirement age to apply for spousal benefits only based on your exspouse’s record (Restricted Application), allowing your benefit based on your own work record to grow in order to receive a higher benefit later. If you wait until your full retirement age to apply, you’ll be entitled to 1/2 of your exspouse’s full benefit (or disability benefit), but if you apply earlier your benefit amount will be reduced. And if your exspouse has died, you would still be entitled to widow(er)’s benefits. Note that you collecting benefits on an exspouse’s record does not affect your ex-spouse’s benefit, nor will it affect the benefit of anyone else (e.g., a current spouse) also getting benefits from your exspouse’s record.

The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed in this article are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at info@ amacfoundation.org.

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