Do The Divorced Spouse Rules Change From Age 62 To Age 66?

Apr 9 2019 - 10:16am

Hi,
Six years ago when I first turned 62 I called the SSA to see if I could file for benefits based on my ex-wife’s work record. We were married for more than 10 years and divorced for 17 years. My ex-wife was also 62. I was told that I could not collect benefits. I believe the reason given was that it was because my benefit was greater than hers.
Recently, I submitted an application to begin receiving social security benefits. I was now told that I could receive benefits based on my ex-wife’s work record, and that I could have been receiving benefits since age 66, my FRA..
Do the divorced spouses rules change from age 62 to age 66 (FRA), or was I misinformed when I called SSA at age 62? Thanks for your help.

Hi,

Yes, the rules are different at ages 62 and 66, at least for people who were born prior to January 2 1954. A person born prior to January 2 1954 can file for spousal or divorced spousal benefits at their full retirement age (FRA) of 66 without being deemed to also be filing for their own Social Security retirement benefits. Thus, they can potentially draw spousal or divorced spousal benefits for 4 years while letting their own Social Security retirement benefits grow until age 70.

However, regardless of when a person was born they cannot file for reduced spousal or divorced spousal benefits prior to FRA without also filing for their own Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. And, people born after January 1 1954 are deemed to be filing for their own retirement benefits if they file for spousal or divorced spousal benefits, regardless of their age at the time of filing (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html).

So, it sounds like you weren't exactly misinformed, but you apparently didn't get the full story. It's true that you couldn't have qualified for divorced spousal benefits at age 62 if your own Social Security retirement benefit rate at FRA is more than 50% of your ex-wife's FRA rate, but assuming that you were born prior to January 2 1954 you could still potentially qualify for divorced spousal benefits at FRA while letting your own retirement rate grow until age 70.

If you believe that you were misinformed by Social Security and it caused you to lose out on drawing divorced spousal benefits, you may want to consider applying for divorced spousal benefits and asking Social Security to establish a deemed filing date for your claim. The rules on establishing misinformation are explained in the following section of Social Security's operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204008.

Best, Jerry