Social Security Benefits For Divorced Spouse

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Table of Contents

How Much are Social Security Benefits for a Divorced Spouse?

Typically, the Social Security Benefits for a divorced spouse is greater of : 

  • Your own retirement benefit based on your individual earnings record, or
  • The divorced spousal benefit is up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s full benefit, provided that certain requirements are met—even if your ex-spouse has remarried.

How Do I Qualify for Divorced Spouse Social Security Benefits?

To qualify for spousal benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record, there are several requirements that need to be met:

  • You must be age 62 or older and not currently married
  • Your marriage must have lasted for 10 years or longer
  • Your former spouse must qualify for Social Security benefits
  • Your Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record must be less than the spousal benefit available under your former spouse’s earnings record
  • If your former spouse has not applied for benefits but is age 62 or older, you can receive benefits based on his/her earnings record if you have been divorced for at least two years.
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Opportunity for Delayed Retirement Credits

If you were age 62 or older as of 12/31/15, when you reach Full Retirement Age (assuming you are eligible for benefits based on your own record and that of your former spouse) you have the option to claim the spousal benefit only and delay taking your own benefit to receive delayed retirement credits for a potentially higher benefit later.

Survivor Benefits

If your former spouse is deceased, at age 60* you may be entitled to survivors’ benefits. The benefit amount is based on your former spouse’s Social Security benefit and your age. For example:

  • If you are at Full Retirement Age or older, you would receive 100 percent of your deceased former spouse’s benefit amount.
  • If you are age 60 up to Full Retirement Age, but not including Full Retirement Age, you would receive a percentage (ranging from 71½ to 99 percent) of your deceased former spouse’s benefit amount.

Keep in mind, the Full Retirement Age used to calculate survivors’ benefits may not be the same as the Full Retirement Age used to calculate retirement benefits. Please check with the Social Security Administration for complete details.

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Social Security Retirement Income Estimator

Now enhanced to include divorced, widowed, and GPO/WEP benefits

Deciding when and how to take Social Security is an important part of retirement income planning. The Social Security Retirement Income Estimator is designed to help individuals and married couples decide when to file a claim and how to coordinate their Social Security benefits to enhance their retirement income. You’ll gain insight into questions, such as:

  • How should Social Security benefits be integrated into an overall retirement income plan?
  • When is the best time to claim benefits?
  • What are the advantages of waiting to receive payments?
  • What percentage of retirement expenses will Social Security cover?

More Features and Functionality

To help maximize the effectiveness of the calculator, we’ve added 3 new features:

  • Divorced benefits — Calculations now include Social Security retirement benefits based on the earnings of an ex-spouse.
  • Widowed benefits — Monthly benefits for widows, widowers, or surviving divorced spouses are estimated based on the work history of a deceased spouse or ex-spouse.
  • GPO/WEP benefits — Our enhanced calculator is one of the few planning tools in the industry that assess the potential impact of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) on Social Security benefits. 

GPO and WEP may reduce your monthly checks if you received pensions from an employer who did not withhold Social Security taxes, such as a government agency.

It’s easy to get started.

Just click to select one of the two separate approaches below.

Goal-Based Report – Use this simple, “check the box” approach to set your retirement income goal and view filing strategies that may help you reach this goal.

Custom Report – Choose the individual filing strategies you want to compare. This approach offers more flexibility to explore options and change variables, such as who should file and when

Other Items to Consider

  • If you remarry after you reach age 60,* your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivor’s benefits. However, if your current spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can apply for benefits based on his or her record if it is higher than your survivor’s benefit.
  • If you are receiving survivors’ benefits and you are eligible for retirement benefits based on your earnings record, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62 if it is higher.
  • If you are already receiving retirement benefits based on your own earnings record, you can contact the Social Security Administration and they will determine if you are eligible to receive a higher benefit as a widow or widower.

What's Next?

Making smart decisions about your retirement income isn’t always easy, but a financial professional can help you understand your options and make a more informed decision about one of your most valuable retirement benefits. 

Still, these examples are not meant to be exhaustive, so it is important to work with the Social Security Administration for a full discussion of your available benefits and options. 

These strategies can get complex. Before making any decision, consult with your qualified tax advisor. Your financial professional can work with you to position your investments to help provide for your income needs throughout retirement.

Have a Specific Question?

SOURCES:, “Benefits Planner – Retirement: Retirement Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse”, “Benefits Planner: Survivors”, accessed May 21, 2019.

While the information about Social Security contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable, American International Group, Inc. (including member insurance companies American General Life Insurance Company, The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York, distributors and representatives) cannot be held responsible for any direct or indirect loss resulting from the application of the information provided here. 

Individuals should consult a qualified tax professional or attorney regarding their specific situation. The purchase of an annuity is not required for and is not a term of, the provision of any banking service or activity. Products and features may vary
by state and may not be available in all states.

Important Note: This material about Social Security is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or other individualized advice. Your financial professional can help you better understand your options, in light of the legislation that went into effect on 12/31/15, so that you can make a more informed decision about Social Security benefits. Once you have decided to claim your benefits, talk to your financial professional about the role Social Security will play in your overall retirement plan.

The Social Security Retirement Income Estimator is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute investment, legal, tax, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of information. The calculations are based on data you provided. The calculations have been reviewed by American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and an independent consultant. The calculations represent AIG’s and the consultant’s understanding of the Social Security rules, as of September 2016, for determining individual, spousal and survivor benefits. However, neither AIG nor the consultant make any guarantees as to the accuracy of these calculations or applicability to your individual circumstances, and cannot be held liable for a direct or incidental loss resulting from the use of information provided by this tool.

The estimates on your Social Security Statement that you have entered are for a future retirement age and assume you will be working until you reach that age. Therefore, the estimates for benefits provided by this tool at specific ages may not match the exact values shown on your Social Security Statement.

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