Can I get Social Security based on my ex’s earnings record?


Q. I am now 60 and understand I can’t apply for Social Security for another two years. What if my ex or I remarry? I was a stay-at-home mom most of our marriage of 27 years. My benefits will be much smaller than his.
— Planning

A. You have several options for receiving Social Security benefits based on your ex-husband’s earnings records.

Even if he remarries, you can claim benefits on his record, as long as you meet certain criteria.

First, your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer, said Ken Van Leeuwen, a certified financial planner with Van Leeuwen & Company in Princeton.

You also must be unmarried at the time you claim benefits and be 62 or older, he said.

Also, the benefit you would receive based on your own work record needs to be smaller than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work record, Van Leeuwen said.

And finally, he said, your ex needs to be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits for you to file.

If you qualify, you can receive up to one-half of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit amount,” he said.

“If you are receiving a divorced spouse’s benefits, generally your benefits will end if you remarry,” he said. “However, you may be able to receive benefits based on your new spouse’s work record or your own.”

You should contact Social Security to discuss your options as the agency can access your records to speak to your specific situation.

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This story was originally published on June 30, 2020. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.