Can I Get Divorced Spousal Benefits Now And Then My Own Benefits When I Retire?

Dec 31 2016 - 10:15am

I just turned 65 and want to retire if I can afford it - but may have to continue to work. My ex-husband is already retired and collecting disability. We were married over 10 years. Can I collect on his benefit now and continue working? If so, how much can I earn in addition to ss? If I don't work at all, can I collect on his now and then later at full retirement collect on my own ss?

Hi,

No, if you file before you reach age 66 for either retirement benefits on your own record or divorced spousal benefits, you'll be deemed to be filing for both. And, you'll only get essentially the higher of the 2 benefits, which will be reduced for starting to draw them prior to full retirement age (FRA).

If you do go ahead and file for reduced benefits, you can earn up to $44,880 in 2017 without losing any of your benefits to the earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). And, only the earnings that you have up until the month in which you reach age 66 count.

It may be better for you if you wait until age 66 and file just for divorced spousal benefits at that time. You could then let your own benefits grow until age 70, at which time they would be 32% higher than if you start them at FRA. You still have this option because you were grandfathered under the new law passed by Congress in 2015 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to make sure that you choose the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry