What Benefit Increase Can My Wife Claim After We Divorce?

Feb 7 2018 - 7:06am

My wife took early Social Security benefits at age 62 (about $850 a month). I was 74 and drawing full social security ($2400). We are in the process of getting a divorce (married 20 years). What benefit increase can she claim after the divorce? What benefit can she claim in the future when I die? I have read the "deeming" rules and am totally confused. Is she stuck with $850 a month for the rest of her life after being married to me for 20 years?

Hi,

If you were already drawing your benefits when your wife filed for benefits at age 62, what she should be getting is the higher of her own retirement benefit rate or her spousal rate or a combination of the two. The benefit rate paid to divorced spouses is the same as that paid to spouses, so there will likely be no change in her rate if and when you divorce.

The reduction for age that your wife chose to accept in return for starting to draw early will continue for as long as you are both living. However, if you die before her and she is at least full retirement age when she starts drawing survivor benefits, she will get your full benefit rate instead of the rate she currently receives. Since you've already been married for at least 10 years, that would be true regardless of whether or not you get divorced.

Best, Jerry