Must I Wait Until My Ex-Husband Turns 63 To Get Half Of His Benefit?

Sep 3 2019 - 6:26pm

Two questions:
My ex-husband is 8 years younger than I, and I am 68. We were married 28 years. I started taking benefits when I turned 65-my benefit is minimal, as he was the main breadwinner. Is it true that I have to wait until he turns 63, and then I will get half of his benefit?

2nd question: I have a small state retirement benefit (Colorado PERA), and my SS is reduced as per the bogus "Windfall Provision". Is there any hope that that will go away? And, when I do receive his benefit, will it also be reduced per the Windfall Provision?

Hi,

If your ex-husband is living he must be either at least age 62, not 63, or drawing Social Security disability benefits in order for you to potentially be able to draw divorced spousal benefits on his account. You wouldn't necessarily receive half of his benefit amount, though, assuming you started drawing your own benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA).

Since you are already drawing benefits on your own record, your divorced spousal rate would be calculated by subtracting your primary insurance amount (PIA), from 50% of your ex's PIA. A person's PIA is the amount they would receive if they start drawing their Social Security retirement benefits at FRA. Assuming that the divorced spousal rate is positive it would be added to your own benefit rate, meaning that you'll be stuck with any reduction for age that you took to start drawing your own benefits early.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) won't affect your divorced spousal benefits, but the Government Pension Offset (GPO) likely will. Assuming that you didn't pay Social Security taxes on the earnings on which your Colorado PERA pension is based, any divorced spousal benefits that you would otherwise qualify for will almost certainly be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your PERA pension (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).

Best, Jerry