Can I Collect Divorced Spousal Benefits Retroactively?

Jan 25 2017 - 4:30am

I am 70 years old, divorced, and still working full-time. I satisfied the divorced spousal requirements to collect benefits at age 66 when I went to Social Security to discuss collecting benefits. I was told that my benefits were more than 50% of my former husband's benefits and I, therefore, could not collect on his account. I was not informed that I could collect his for four years, 66-70, and let my benefits maximize to age 70 - I have now begun collecting my benefits at age 70. It was the first edition of your book which alerted me to the fact that I could have been collecting social security payments from my former spouses social security (He is 73.).
My question is, Can I now collect these funds retroactively, or at least some of them? When I went to Social Security three months before turning 70, the response to my question was a shrug and that social security is not obliged to provide all the information - as you have spoken about under Horror Stories.
Thank you for any guidance you can provide.


If you went to the Social Security office 3 months prior to turning age 70, it sounds like you could have at least filed then for divorced spousal benefits. Social Security applications can be retroactive for up to 6 months, so that should have permitted you to receive 9 months of divorced spousal benefits prior to switching to your own retirement benefits at age 70. If that didn't happen, you could try filing for divorced spousal benefits now and asking Social Security to back date your application to the date you went to the office to apply for your retirement benefits, or even earlier if you can establish that you were given misinformation by a Social Security representative that dissuaded you from filing a claim.

In order to claim retroactive divorced spousal benefits for more than 6 months, you will have to establish that you were misinformed by Social Security. Here is the reference from Social Security's operations that explains how to go about establishing misinformation: If your application is disallowed because Social Security won't back date your application, you can pursue an appeal. For more information on the appeals process, refer to this pamphlet:

Best, Jerry