When Should I Apply For Divorced Spousal Benefits?

Feb 16 2017 - 8:30am

Hi Larry, I am divorced after married 17 years, now I'm on Disability and 65 years old. After reading extensively I understand my Disability will roll over to regular Social Security at the same rate of payment as the Disability payment when I turn 65.
I want to file on his Social Security to increase my income, but not sure what to do or when. Do I wait till I'm 66 to file for the most benefit on his SS or go ahead and do it now and get mine and half of his? I read so much, will timing make a substantial difference? What is the best way?
Thank you for your help!

Hi Sarah,

Actually, your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits at your full retirement age of 66, not at age 65.

I'm assuming that your ex-spouse is still living. In order for you to qualify for divorced spousal benefits, 50% of your ex-spouse's full retirement age benefit rate would have to be higher than your own full disability or retirement rate. You would also need to meet all of the other requirements for entitlement (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html). You could potentially receive the higher of your own rate or 50% of your ex's full rate, but not both.

If you do qualify for divorced spousal benefits, the benefit rate will be unreduced if you wait until full retirement age (FRA) to start drawing them. If you start drawing them before FRA, they will be reduced for age. The percentage reduction rate is 25/36ths of 1% per month, or 8.33% per year. This reduction would only apply to the excess divorced spousal benefit, though, not to your own benefits rate.

Best, Jerry