Ask Larry

Can I File For Half Of My Ex's Benefits?

I've been divorced for 20 years and not remarried.
I am 62 and started pulling Social Security this year 2021.

My ex is older and has NOT started pulling SS yet.

My questions are:

1.) Can I file for half her benefits of what she would get?

2.) Can one switch between one's own benefit and divorced person's benefits?

Thank you, Steve

Hi Steve, You can file for divorced spousal benefits now since your ex is at least age 62 and you've been divorced for over 2 years, but as long as she's living you could only be eligible for benefits on your ex's account if her primary insurance amount (PIA) is more than twice as much as your 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).

You can't switch between your own benefit and a divorced spousal benefit. People born after January 1 1954 are deemed to be filing for both their own benefits and for divorced spousal benefits whenever they apply for either benefit. They can then be paid basically just the higher of the 2 benefit rates. Once you start drawing your own benefits you can't stop drawing those benefits and file for a different type of benefit (e.g. divorced spousal, survivor) instead. You could, however, apply for a partial divorced spousal or survivor benefit to be paid in addition to your own benefit if the other benefit rate is higher.

Best, Jerry

Jul 8 2021 - 12:04pm
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