What Benefits Can I Receive Based on My Ex's Record?

Jun 30 2016 - 5:30pm

Hi, I am 68 and retired at age 67. I chose to wait to apply for my SS retirement until age 70 in order to maximize my benefit. I just read your book and found that I can take a divorced spousal benefit between now and age 70. I talked to SS and my ex earned more, but since I get 50% of his benefit as a former spouse, my own retirement will probably be higher at age 70. Should he pass before me, however, SS estimates that a divorced widow’s benefit will be higher than my own retirement benefit. Will SS inform me of his passing if I am receiving divorced spousal benefits? Hey, add to this the complication that I will get WEP’d and GPO’d. If my divorced spousal and widowed divorced spousal will be reduced by 2/3 of my non-covered pension I don’t expect I will never get anything from his SS. Of course, I don’t have access to my ex’s records to know that. I have an appointment to apply for my divorced spousal in 3 weeks. That seems to be the only way I can find out if I will receive benefits. Thanks, Lynda

Lynda, you should be able to collect your divorced spousal benefit between now and 70 when you switch to your higher retirement benefit. If he dies while you are receiving your divorced spousal benefit, his death would make you eligible for a divorced widow's benefit but no longer the divorced spousal benefit. Social Security will inform you that you can no longer received your divorced spousal benefit. This won't happen of course if he dies after you switch to your retirement benefit but you can periodically check to see if you've become eligible for you divorced widow's benefit. As you note, the GPO will reduce any benefit you receive based on his record. Thanks, John