Ask Larry

Can I Collect Divorced Spouse's Benefits?

Husbands and wives I know each collect their own Social Security benefits, providing they worked enough quarters - translating, sort of, to two incomes after retirement. I am now single, with no plans to remarry, but I was married for almost 11 years. I am under the impression that I can only collect either my own or half of my ex's SS: mine will - eventually - be the higher amount. I turned 61 in May 2016. My ex will be 66 in July 2016. What are my best options for maximizing my eventual SS income? My latest understanding (based upon the most recent information I have been given) is that the only good choice is to wait until my full-retirement age of 66 years, two months, to collect mine (although my financial advisor tells me to wait as long as I can) and forget about getting any of my ex's. But I feel like I should not be penalized for the fact that, by the luck of the draw, I am not married and thus will only have one SS income when I retire. Why is it not possible for ex's to collect at least some of their former spouse's SS? That does not seem fair. Yes, I have been able to put other money away, but I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination (which puts my eventual retirement way down the road). Sigh. Thanks.

If you have been divorced for at least two years or your Ex-husband has filed for his retirement benefit, then you can collect a divorced spouse's benefit.
The strategy that maximizes your lifetime Social Security benefits depends on the amount of your divorced spouse's benefit compared to your retirement benefit. Your best strategy may be to take your divorced spouse's benefit early and delay your retirement benefit until age 70, which would increase it by 30.67%. Our software, MaximizeMySocialSecurity, will help you determine what works best for you.

Jul 1 2016 - 10:15am
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