Can I Still File For Divorced Spousal Benefits At Age 66 & Switch To My Own Record At Age 70?

Feb 25 2017 - 10:00am

I am presently 64.5 , my ex-spouse (we were married over 10 yrs and I never remarried) turned 65 in Feb, 1017. I was first told by an agent at Soc Sec that I qualified for up to his 50% amount at my age 66 (and that at my age 70 I could switch and collect on mine instead, therefore letting mine continue to grow). The agent (rep?) went in the back to print out the information and came back saying I will never qualify for the Divorced spousal benefits (even if he dies) because of a law passed in 2015 under Obama administration. I told her that I was very confused because I researched this and I seemed to meet the "grandfather" co-hort by our ages and that is what appears on the Soc Security web site. She said that is out dated and she was not aware of what it says. Can you please give me insight into all this confusion?

Hi,

Very simply, yes you can file a restricted application for divorced spousal benefits only at age 66, then switch to your own record at age 70, at which time your own benefit rate will be 32% higher than it would have been if you'd started drawing it at age 66. This is likely to be your best filing option, but you may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to be sure.

Unfortunately, you clearly had the bad fortune to be dealing with a poorly trained Social Security employee. The amendments passed by Congress in 2015 did change this rule, but only for people born after January 1 1954. If necessary, the next time you deal with Social Security you can point out this section from their operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204020. Section D.1.b of this reference clearly states that if you were born prior to January 2 1954, you can still restrict the scope of your application to divorced spousal benefits only if you file at full retirement age (66 for you).

Best, Jerry