Is My Ex-Wife Entitled To 50% Of My Full Retirement Age Benefit Even If She Started Collecting Hers At 62?

Aug 2 2020 - 9:56am

My name is John, and my ex-wife's name is Donna.

We were married for about 20 years when my wife divorced me. We're still good friends and I think the IRS is taking advantage of her. She retired when she was 62. I'm 63 now, and when I turned 62, I had her reapply to get my social security. My income is substantially greater than hers. My understanding is that even divorced, because we were married more than 10 years, she would be entitled to 50% of what my social security would be at my full retirement. They said that because she retired at 62, she only gets the reduced rate. I already think they took advantage of her when they denied her disability, and I can't help thinking that they are doing it again. At best, it feels to me like they are either wrong or confused. (The agent helping us when I went with her was new.)

Is she entitled to 50% regardless of the fact that she started collecting hers at 62?

Thank you for your time.

Hi,

No, she's not. If a person files for their Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, the resulting reduction for age applied to their benefit rate continues to apply even if they later apply for spousal or divorced spousal benefits. And, they could only qualify for additional spousal or divorced spousal benefits if their own primary insurance amount (PIA) is less than their spouse's or divorced spouse's 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).

For example, say Jan filed for her benefits last year at age 62. Jan's full retirement age rate, or primary insurance amount (PIA) is $1000, but her rate is reduced for age to $729. Jan's living ex-spouse's PIA is $2000, and if Jan filed for divorced spousal benefits her unreduced excess spousal benefit would be calculated by subtracting her PIA from 50% of her husband's PIA, which in Jan's case is $0 (i.e. $2000/2 - $1000). Therefore, Jan will only be paid her own reduced benefit rate of $729.

Best, Jerry