Why Can't I Get More From My Ex-Spouse?

Aug 17 2017 - 7:51am

hello filed for ssi today and was married for 18 years from 1982 to 2000 and asked them about getting half her benefits now. I filed at 62 she is 58 and the ssi office told me I would only get 5 dollars more than I get now which in my case is only 410.00 I believe she actually made more than I did how is that possible to only be 5 dollars more. they told me that you don't get half anymore.

Hi,

First of all, you couldn't get divorced spousal benefits until your wife is at least age 62, unless she is receiving disability benefits.

Unreduced divorced spousal benefits are calculated at a rate of 50% of the worker's full retirement age rate (PIA), but if you are also entitled to benefits on your own record you can only get the higher of your own full rate or 50% of your ex's PIA. And, if you start drawing benefits before full retirement age (FRA), your benefit rate is reduced for age.

For example, say Ron files for his benefits at age 62. Ron's full retirement age rate (PIA) is $800, but his reduced age 62 rate is $600. Ron's ex-wife turns age 62 four years later, and Ron applies for divorced spousal benefits. Ron's ex's PIA is $1700, so Ron is eligible for an excess spousal benefit of $50 (i.e. $1700/2 - $800), which would be added to his reduced retirement benefit for a combined benefit rate of $650.

Best, Jerry