Collecting Social Security Benefits

Can you collect your spouse’s Social Security benefits? If you are already collecting your own Social Security benefits, can you elect to collect your spouse’s benefits instead of yours? What do you have to do to collect your spouse’s Social Security benefits? These questions and others are common questions seniors have concerning Social Security benefits.

If you and your spouse divorce, you are entitled to collect either your spouse’s Social Security benefits or your Social Security benefits, whichever is larger of the two. Although you cannot collect both your Social Security benefits and your spouse’s, you can elect to receive your ex-spouse’s benefits provided you meet the following criteria:

1.   You must be at least 60 years of age or be over 50 years of age and disabled.

2.   At the time of your divorce from your ex-spouse you had to have been married at least 10 years.

3.   Your spouse’s Social Security benefits are higher than your Social Security benefits.

4.   After divorcing your spouse, you didn’t remarry before you turned 60 years of age.

Early Social Security Benefits

If you start receiving Social Security benefits prior to age 66, this has a permanent effect on reducing your monthly payments. This applies also if you elect to receive your spouse’s Social Security benefits. The key to obtaining Social Security benefits from a spouse is to stay married at least 10 years.

social security benefitsElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is an elder law attorney representing clients concerning elder law planning issues involving wills, trusts, estates, healthcare proxies, taxation on estates, and medicaid benefits. Elliot has been providing elder care consultations for seniors for more than three decades.