I’m disabled. Can I get Social Security from my ex?

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Q. I have had multiple sclerosis for over 33 years and I have been receiving SSDI since approximately 1995. I did work part-time as an LPN until 2010, but now I’m totally disabled and age 60. I’m single, but I have an ex. Can I collect on his Social Security? We were married for 23 years and he retired three months ago.
— Hopeful

A. There are several benefits provided by the Social Security Administration, and each benefit has different rules governing when you are allowed to apply for them.

Specifically in your case, you are currently receiving “disability” benefits.

The key part of your question is whether your ex-spouse is alive or has passed away, said Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn.

“Since it appears from your question that he is alive, you would qualify for spousal benefits based on his record,” he said. “You need to be at least 62 years old to apply for spousal benefits.”

Scheibner said if he had passed away, then you would qualify for survivor benefits, which you would be entitled to at age 60.

“If you are looking to maximize your Social Security, you could continue your SSDI payments until your full retirement age, when you can switch to your full spousal benefits,” he said. “That would entitle you to 100% of your spousal benefits.”

If you decide to begin the spousal benefits prior to your full retirement age, you can expect a permanent reduction in payments, he said.

“To determine what you should do at age 62, you’ll want to review how much you are currently getting on SSDI, versus the reduced benefit on your husband’s record, as well as determine your current cash flow needs to see what will work best for you,” he said.

Note that you can’t receive both benefits at the same time.

You should contact Social Security directly to see exactly what your benefits could be.

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This story was originally published on Dec. 30, 2021.

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