Recently we talked about the spousal benefit for Social Security retirement benefits. It is also important to note that similar benefits are available to divorced spouses.
A divorced spouse is eligible for a Social Security retirement benefit based upon the PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) of his or her ex-spouse under the following conditions:
- he or she is at least 62 years of age
- the couple was married for ten years or longer
- he or she is not currently married
- he or she is not eligible for a benefit (on his or her own record or another ex-spouse’s record) that would be greater than the benefit based on this particular ex-spouse’s record
The divorcée’s former spouse does not have to have applied for benefits, as long as the couple have been divorced for at least two years when he or she applies for the spousal benefit. However, the former spouse must be eligible for benefits – that is, he or she (the former spouse) must be at least age 62. Delaying application for spousal benefits beyond the former spouse’s age 62, up to FRA (Full Retirement Age) for the former spouse, will increase the amount of the spousal benefit.
As with the regular spousal benefit, if the divorcée reaches FRA and is eligible for a benefit on his or her own record, the divorcée can choose to receive only the divorced spousal benefit now and delay receiving retirement benefits in order to build delayed credits, increasing the benefit available on his or her own account.
Any benefits that are received by the divorcée have no impact on benefits to be received by the former spouse, any other ex-spouses of the former spouse, or the former spouse’s current spouse. Now that’s quite a sentence, isn’t it?