Ask Larry

Can I Check To See If My Ex-Spouse's SS Is Better Than Mine?

I have not yet applied for SS, but I am at full age to do it. I may wait. My ex-spouse (married over 10 years) gets ONLY a government pension that he's collecting, even though he has worked jobs that he paid into SS. In my divorce settlement I was awarded a certain percentage of that pension that I have been getting for years and will continue to get. My question is, can I check if his SS is better than mine so I can make a better decision when I apply? Does the pension I get (awarded) from him have anything to do with my eligibility for my SS? What is the meaning of Government Pension offset, and covered/noncovered by SS ?

Hi. My answer assumes that your ex-spouse is still living. Social Security can't give you any information about your ex-husband's actual or potential benefit rate, but they should be able to tell you whether or not you could qualify for divorced spousal benefits. And, if you do, they should be able to give you an estimate of how much you could be paid.

If and when you do check with Social Security regarding divorced spousal benefits, though, if your ex-husband hasn't yet claimed Social Security benefits then you'll need to make sure you tell Social Security about his government pension. The fact that he apparently receives a government pension would likely reduce the amount of his PIA, which in turn would affect how much you could potentially be paid as a divorced spouse (

You don't mention your exact age, but unless you were born prior to January 2 1954, you can't apply just for divorced spousal benefits without being required to claim your own benefits at the same time. Therefore, you'll only be able to qualify for divorced spousal benefits while your ex is living if 50% of his primary insurance amount (PIA) is more than your own PIA. A person's PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing their benefits at full retirement age (FRA).

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision can cause a person's Social Security spousal, divorced spousal, or survivor benefit rate to be reduced by 2/3rds of the amount of any government pensions that they receive that are based on their own earnings that were exempt from Social Security taxes ( References to 'covered' and 'non-covered' earnings simply refer to whether or not Social Security taxes were required to be withheld from the earnings.

Your best filing strategy likely depends in large part on whether or not your own benefit rate would be higher than your potential divorced spousal rate. It sounds like you should strongly consider using our software ( to fully compare and analyze all of your options so that you can determine your best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry

Mar 14 2023 - 6:39am
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