Can I Suspend My Benefits At Age 66 And Draw Divorced Spousal Benefits Instead?

Jan 6 2018 - 6:24am

Hi. I was married for over 11 years, and now have been divorced for over 20 years. I started taking my SS benefit at 62. When I reach 66, in April, can I suspend my benefits, and collect spousal benefits from my xwife, who is already 66 and collecting SS benefits since she was 62?

Hi,

No. Once you start drawing your own retirement benefits that becomes your primary benefit for life. If you subsequently become eligible for another type of benefit (e.g. divorced spousal, widow), the most that you could get on the other record is the difference between that benefit rate and your own, assuming that the other benefit rate is higher. That's true whether or not you voluntarily suspend your own benefits, and under the new rules passed by Congress in 2015 you couldn't receive benefits on another record while your own benefits are suspended, even if you are eligible for additional divorced spousal benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

You may be eligible for additional divorced spousal benefits your ex-wife's record while she's still living, but only if her full retirement age rate (PIA) is more than twice as much as your own PIA.

Best, Jerry