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Can you claim Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2022 | Divorce

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means the court strives to divide property and assets based on what’s fair for the divorcing couple. As part of this process, Social Security benefits are an asset that you might be able to collect from your ex-spouse.

Is your ex-spouse eligible?

Your ex-spouse must be eligible for Social Security benefits for you to receive part of this income. They need to be 62 years old or older, blind or disabled to begin receiving Social Security. Your ex-spouse needs to have 40 work credits to begin receiving Social Security as well. The exceptions to this are if they are blind or disabled; then, the work credits requirement will be lower.

Your eligibility requirements

The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years for you to collect Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse. You must wait two years after the final divorce decree to claim part of your ex-spouse’s Social Security. If you qualify for your own benefits, then the Social Security Administration will pay that to you first and give you the remainder of what you should receive from your ex-spouse’s benefits. Only those who were born before Jan. 2, 1954, have the option of choosing to receive just their ex-spouse’s benefits while delaying receipt of their own benefits.

Another important guideline for eligibility is that you can’t remarry while your ex-spouse is alive and keep collecting benefits. If you remarry before they die, then you are no longer eligible to receive part of their Social Security benefits. You need to be at least 60 years old when you remarry after their death to qualify for survivor benefits.

Although it’s possible to claim Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse, you should check the law to find out all of the limitations surrounding this option before finalizing your divorce. You can only receive up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefits, depending on other details of your financial situation.