How Divorce Affects Social Security Spousal Benefits


If Social Security is vital to your retirement strategy, it's important to consider how your benefits will be affected by a Pasadena divorce. If you are thinking about claiming benefits based on your spouse's earnings record, there are several factors to consider as you are deciding when to file for divorce.

You can can receive benefits as a divorced spouse based on your former spouse's Social Security record if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were married for at least 15 years before filing for divorce.
  • You are at least age 62.
  • You are currently unmarried.
  • You are not entitled to a higher benefit based on your own earnings record.

Just like someone who is still married, you can file a restricted claim for spousal benefits if you wait until you've reached full retirement age. This allows you to collect benefits equal to one half of your ex-spouse's full retirement age benefit. At the same time, your own retirement benefits accrue delayed-retirement credits. These credits are worth 8% per year between age 66 and 70. When you reach age 70, you can switch to your own retirement benefit which would then be worth 132% of the full retirement age amount.

A married spouse must wait until the spouse who earned the benefits files before a restricted claim for spousal benefits can be filed. A divorced spouse is able to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits even if his or her ex-spouse has yet to file for Social Security benefits. However, the couple must have been divorced for at least two years.

If you file a restricted claim for spousal benefits while legally married and then file for divorce at a later date, the claim for Social Security benefits is not affected. You would be able to claim benefits until age 70 and then switch to claiming on your own retirement benefit.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you need legal representation during your divorce. Our team of skilled Pasadena divorce lawyers can help you with issues relating to the division of marital assets, as well as claims for spousal support.