Is There Any Way To Find Out How Much I Can Get On My Ex-Husband's Record?

Dec 8 2016 - 12:15pm

Is there any way I can find out about my ex-husband's benefits if we are not on speaking terms? I am the right age to collect on his benefits until age 70 and then take my own. I am trying to calculate my various options (he will only be 64 in January 2017, and I will turn 65 in May), but from what I understand, the social security administration will not provide me with any details about his benefits unless I apply.

Hi,

My understanding is that Social Security is allowed to tell you how much you would receive if you apply for divorced spousal benefits on your ex-husband's account without violating the privacy act. However, you may run into resistance in getting the information from SSA employees because the privacy act of 1974 is just as ambiguous as most of the acts passed by Congress, and SSA employees have been warned that they can be fined or jailed if they violate the privacy act, even if the violation is unintentional. If you'd like to investigate the privacy act on your own, you can start here: https://www.ssa.gov/foia/privacy.html.

What I can tell you is that you are eligible to apply for divorced spousal benefits only at age 66 without also being deemed to apply for benefits on your own record. That's true because you were born prior to January 2 1954, and are thus grandfathered under the new deeming rules that Congress passed last year (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). So, your best filing strategy may very well be to file a restricted application for divorced spousal benefits only at age 66, and then switch to your own record at age 70, assuming that your own benefit rate is higher than your divorced spousal benefit rate at that time. If you wait until age 70 to file on your own record, your benefit rate will be 32% higher than if you start drawing it at age 66.

Best, Jerry