Former Spouse May Draw Disability and Retirement Benefits on Ex

A former spouse can receive benefits under the same circumstances as a current spouse or widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. An ex-spouse may also qualify for benefits if the worker becomes disabled.

To qualify for Disabled Widow/Widower Benefits, you must be between the ages of 50 and 60, and have been married for at least 10 years to the person who was covered under Social Security at the time of his or her death, and show that you are under a disability. You must prove that your disability began within seven years of your spouse’s death.

Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse will not affect the benefit rates for other beneficiaries. So if you remarry, your spouse and your ex-spouse both can receive benefits on your record.

A person who is divorced after at least 10 years of marriage keeps certain benefit rights on their former spouse’s Social Security record. In order to get benefits, a divorced spouse must be at least age 62 and the former spouse must be eligible for benefits, but not necessarily receiving them.

The maximum benefit is 50 percent of the benefit the worker would receive at full retirement age. However, benefits paid before the full retirement age of the spouse are reduced based upon the age of the spouse at the time benefits are received.

Please note that in general, a person applying as a widow/widower cannot receive benefits if they remarry before the age of 60 (50 if disabled) unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce or annulment. However, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent payments on a former spouse’s record.
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