When can I draw on my ex’s Social Security benefits?

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Q. I am divorced. My ex-husband is who is 5 years 6 months younger than me. How long do I have to wait before I can draw on his Social Security? We were married 19 years.
— Retiring soon

A. It’s important to understand what Social Security benefits, if any, you may be entitled to after a divorce.

There are multiple requirements one must meet in order to collect Social Security benefits based on a former spouse’s employment history.

First, the marriage must have endured for a period of 10 or more years, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

Lawrence said the individual seeking to collect Social Security must be 62 years old and unmarried at the time the request for benefits is made.

“Moreover, the benefit that you are entitled to receive based on your personal employment history must be less than that to which you are entitled pursuant to your former spouse’s employment history,” she said.

Assuming all requirements are met, you must wait until your former spouse is eligible to receive Social Security benefits to apply for and collect benefits on his record.

If your spouse is eligible for benefits but is voluntarily electing not to collect — and you meet the above-stated requirements — you may apply for and receive benefits based on your former spouse’s employment history if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years, Lawrence said.

“However, if your former spouse is not yet eligible to receive Social Security benefits at this time, your application must wait until he/she is permitted to do so, Lawrence said.

Email your questions to moc.p1597171709leHye1597171709noMJN1597171709@ksA1597171709.

This story was originally published on Jan. 13, 2020.

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