What Should I Do Next?

Jun 29 2018 - 12:08pm

independently divorced spouse benefit, approved, then denied. we divorced 12/2017, I was FRA, she was 7 months shy of FRA. I spoke to someone at SSA who said that because we were both eligible for benefits in the month before divorce, the 2-years divorced waiting period wold not apply, and received an email stating this, so I applied. 3 weeks later when I called I was told application had been approved and should receive a letter shortly. When no letter arrived I called SSA national number several times, first told it was being processed for payment, wait a month, then told they had no info and I should call processing office. I did that and have now been told claim was reviewed at a higher level and denied 2 months ago because not divorced 2 years. (I have yet to receive written notice). What to do next? Thanks for any help!

Hi,

Claims for independently entitled divorced spouse's benefits typically take longer to process because they require manual action as opposed to being fully automated like most claims. Still, you should have received a formal disallowance notice (or award letter) by mail.

In any case, the important issue is whether or not the determination on your claim is correct. Unless your ex-wife files for and establishes entitlement to her retirement benefits, you can't qualify for divorced spousal benefits until you've been divorced for at least 2 full years (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home%2Fhandbook/handbook.03/handbook-0311.html). If you were told differently by a Social Security representative then they were mistaken. So, unless your ex-wife files for her retirement benefits before then, it sounds like you could first be independently entitled as a divorced spouse effective with January 2020 (or December 2019 if your divorce was final on December 1 2017).

If your claim has been disallowed you could file an appeal, but unless the decision on your claim was incorrect there probably wouldn't be any purpose in doing so. You may want to consider using our maximization software to explore and compare the filing options that are available to you.

Best, Jerry