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Are Both Spouse's Earnings Records Used When Calculating Benefits For An Ex-Spouse?

In calculating benefits for an ex spouse; are both earnings records of the two spouses used in calculating the monthly payments , or is only one used? For example if 50% of the ex spouses benefit amount is more than the PIA on the primary claimants earnings record, is the final payment calculated based on both earnings records,( ie. .$ 400 monthly on the primary claimants record and $75 from the ex spouses earnings record, for a total of $475.)?

Hi. If a person is drawing just divorced spousal benefits and not a combination of their own Social Security retirement benefit and divorced spousal benefits, then the divorced spousal rate would be calculated solely based on the earnings of the spouse on whose record the divorced spousal benefits are paid.

However, if a person files for their own Social Security retirement benefits and if they qualify for additional divorced spousal benefits, then earnings on both spouse's records would be used. Their earnings histories would not be combined in any way, though. Instead, each spouse's earnings history would be used to calculate their individual retirement benefit rates, and any divorced spousal benefits would be calculated using those individual rates.

For example, say Amy files for her benefits this year at age 62. Amy's primary insurance amount (PIA), or full retirement age rate, based on her earnings history would be $800, but Amy's rate is reduced for age to $570. Amy's ex-husband is drawing his benefits, and based on his earnings history his PIA is $2000. Amy's unreduced excess spousal rate would then be calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her ex-husband's PIA. In Amy's case, that amounts to $200 (i.e. $2000/2 - $800). However, since Amy is only 62 when she becomes eligible for divorced spousal benefits her divorced spousal rate is reduced to $132. That amount is then paid in addition to Amy's own reduced rate of $570 to give her a combined rate of $702 (i.e. $570 + $132).

Best, Jerry

Jun 30 2021 - 10:07am
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