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How much can one claim on an ex's Social Security after divorce?

Many divorced people in Colorado are probably unaware that they can collect Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse's record. There are some requirements for eligibility: the marriage must have lasted at least ten years; the couple must be divorced for at least two years; and the ex-spouse seeking the benefits must be single. We discussed this issue in a blog post earlier this year; in this post we'll take a more detailed look at the amount one can claim and whether there is any effect on the ex-spouse.

The amount of the benefits that can be collected depends on the age they are claimed. If the claimant begins collecting on their ex's account at age 62, they can get 35 percent of the ex's benefit. For each year after age 62, the benefit increases. If the claimant waits until age 66, they can claim 50 percent, at which point the spousal benefit maxes out. If the ex-spouse is deceased, the claimant can collect up to 100 percent.

One seeking to claim benefits on their ex's account before age 62 must file for their own benefits at the same time. One who waits until age 66 and is willing to work part time can file for the spousal benefits only, keep working, and then retire and claim the maximum benefit on their own account at age 70.

Some people may be reluctant to claim Social Security on their ex-spouse's record for fear it will reduce the amount paid to the ex-spouse. However, collecting spousal benefits on an ex's account does not affect the amount paid to the ex. In fact, the ex-spouse will not be notified their ex is collecting the benefits. If they ask, the Social Security Administration is prohibited from telling them, because of privacy laws.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorced? You May Be Able To Tap Your Ex-Spouse's Social Security Benefit," Buck Wargo, June 2, 2015

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