Can I Collect On My Ex-Wife's Record In Addition To My SSDI?

Jul 20 2018 - 9:31am

Reading your book "Get What's Yours" and have found it to be very informative but cannot fully understand the question I have.
I am 65 years of age and have been on SS Disability for 6 years and am aware that it will convert over to regular SS FRA next year(Jan). I was reading about spousal benefits for exe's and under the section for disability it said there were different rules. My ex and I were married for 12 years divorcing in 1998. She is 9 years my junior,56 yrs old, and as far as I know still alive and employed.
Can I also collect on her SS at this point in addition to my SSD or do I have to wait for her to turn 62? As you mention in the book I am one of the great majority who needs the income now. I wish I was in the position to hold off until I was 70 but don't know what I would live on.
Thanks so much,


Hi Bob,

The only way that you could potentially be eligible for divorced spousal benefits before your ex-spouse reaches age 62 is if she is drawing Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), or if she dies. Even when your ex reaches age 62, though, you could only qualify for divorced spousal benefits if 50% of your ex's full retirement age rate (i.e. Primary Insurance Amount, or PIA) is higher than your own PIA, which is the equivalent of your full SSDI rate. However, if your ex dies you could potentially qualify for survivor benefits if her PIA or benefit rate is simply higher than your own benefit rate.

If you're not familiar with your wife's present status, you may want to check with Social Security to see if there's a possibility that you might qualify for divorced spousal benefits in addition to your own benefits. Social Security will need to know your ex's Social Security number in order to locate her records, but if you don't know it they might be able to find it if you can furnish enough background information about her (e.g. maiden name, date and place of birth, parents' names, etc.)

Best, Jerry