What Divorced Spousal Benefits Do I Qualify For?

Jan 11 2017 - 4:45am

I haven't seen a question like this one. I was married twice for more than 10 years each--and one x is 81 and one x is 74. Both are drawing SS. I am turning 62 summer of 2017. So, now, if I decided to retire before age 66, I am deemed to do both, my own, and x-spousal, naturally at a reduced rate. So do I get the one who made the most money? And, if I can't take one of theirs and switch to my own after I turn 70--can I take a reduced x-spousal before 66, and then, when I turn 70, switch and get a full from the other? And what are the ramifications if one should pass away while I am getting SS from the other's (reduced) benefit. Any switching for higher benefits possible? Such fun!

Hi,

If both of your ex-husband's are living at the time you file for benefits, you'll be deemed to be filing on your own record and both of your ex's records. You can't start drawing divorced spousal benefits and switch to your own at age 70, since you were born after January 1 1954. Nor can you draw divorced spousal benefits on one of your ex's records and switch to the other ex's record at a later time.

If one or both of your ex's dies before you file for benefits, then you could file for surviving divorced spousal benefits without also filing on your own record. That way, you could let your own rate grow until age 70. Or, you could file for reduced benefits on your own record first and then switch to surviving divorced spousal benefits at full retirement age. Which strategy would be best in that event would depend on your and your ex's relative benefit rates, and you would probably want to run the maximization software available on this website in order to help you determine the best option.

If one or both of your ex's dies before you and after you have already started drawing benefits, then you could become eligible for a higher benefit rate on their account. Surviving divorced spousal benefits are calculated based on your ex's full benefit rate, as opposed to 50% of their full retirement age rate as are divorced spousal benefits. So, you could then receive essentially the higher of your own benefit rate or your ex-spouse's.

Best, Jerry