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Social Security Strategies for Spouses and Ex-Spouses

Social Security Benefits for Spouses and Survivors

As we grow older, the need for financial security becomes paramount. One such avenue of security is social security, which provides financial benefits to eligible individuals.

In this article, we will delve into the details of social security benefits for spouses and survivors, outlining the key information you need to know.

Spousal Benefits

If you are married or were married for at least ten years, you are eligible for spousal benefits. The highest benefit allowable under this scheme is equivalent to 50% of your spouse’s benefit.

However, you can only receive the highest benefit if you start collecting at the age of full retirement. The age of full retirement varies depending on your birth year.

It is important to note that you can only choose to receive your own benefit or 50% of your spouse’s benefit- whichever is higher. If your own benefit is $1000, and your spouse’s benefit is $1500, you are only entitled to your own benefit.

Also, a divorced spouse may be eligible for benefits if they were married for at least ten years. They must also meet the minimum age of 62 and remain unmarried.

If the spouse remarries, their entitlement to spousal benefits is void. In some cases, your spousal benefits may constitute the maximum of $3,000 per month.

This is the case if your spouse’s benefit is over $6,000, which is the maximum earner limit for the social security administration.

Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits are available to widows, widowers, and dependent children. To be entitled to these benefits, the deceased must have worked long enough and paid into social security.

The length of the marriage also matters; the marriage should have lasted ten years or more. The widow or widower can claim survivor’s benefits at their full retirement age, or take a reduced benefit as early as age 60.

The amount of the death benefit varies depending on the deceased’s lifetime earnings. The benefit could range from a minimum of $255 to the maximum of 100% of the deceased’s benefit.

If you are widowed and also entitled to your benefit, you can switch your claim. For example, you can claim your spousal benefit first and delay your worker benefit to accrue further credits.

Effects of Remarriage on Social Security Benefits

Remarriage can affect your social security benefits, whether spousal or survivor’s benefits. If you remarry before the age of 60, you lose entitlement to your ex-spouse’s survivor benefits.

In contrast, if you remarry after age 60, you retain your benefits and are eligible for survivor benefits from either marriage. Also, a new spouse or children from your remarriage would be eligible for benefits under your account as well.

In terms of eligibility for ex-spouse’s benefits, you can still collect if you are over 60 and your marriage lasted ten years or more. It is essential to note that you can only collect one benefit.

If you are entitled to your own worker’s benefit, you can choose the higher of the two.


In summary, Social Security benefits provide crucial financial security for spouses and survivors. Depending on the details of your case, you may qualify for spousal or survivor’s benefits.

However, it is important to note that remarrying after entitlement to benefits can void those benefits, so it is vital to be aware of the rules. We hope this article provides you with a better understanding of the social security benefits available to you and the critical factors that can impact them.

Social Security Claiming Strategies for Ex-Spouses

Divorce can be a challenging experience, and figuring out social security benefits after divorce can be equally daunting. The good news is that ex-spouses may be eligible for benefits under their former partner’s account.

In this article, we will delve into the details of social security claiming strategies for ex-spouses, with a focus on delayed retirement and time-related strategies.

Delayed Retirement Benefit

One strategy for ex-spouses is to delay retirement benefits until they reach age 70. The amount of benefits you receive increases every year between full retirement age (between 66-67 years) and 70.

Delaying your retirement claim allows you to maximize your benefit amount; this could prove beneficial, particularly if the deceased spouse had a higher earning record. Survivor benefits and retirement benefits are two types of social security benefits you can claim.

It’s essential to note that you cannot claim both benefits simultaneously. However, delaying your retirement benefits can prove advantageous in cases where your benefit may be lower than your ex-spouse’s.

In such a scenario, delaying your benefits until age 70 gives you a higher payout. To illustrate this point, let’s assume you are 63 years old, eligible for $1000 per month in retirement benefits.

However, if you wait until age 70 to claim, you could be eligible for $1,240 per month. If your ex-spouse’s social security record entitles you to a $2000 survivor benefit, and you’re currently divorced, you may want to wait until age 70 to file a claim for your own retirement benefits.

This strategy could result in a survivor benefit of $2000 at age 70.

Time-Related Strategies

Another claiming strategy involves time-related eligibility rules. One important rule involves the ten-year cutoff.

This rule states that for an ex-spouse to be eligible for their partner’s social security benefits, the marriage must have lasted at least ten years. If you were married for nine years and eleven months, you do not qualify for benefits under your ex-spouse’s account.

Suppose you are receiving social security benefits under your ex-spouse’s account but decide to remarry. In that case, you will no longer be eligible for your previous ex-spouse’s benefits unless the remarriage ends (for example, through death, annulment, or divorce).

The only way you can receive benefits from your new spouse’s social security record is if his or her record entitles you to a higher benefit than yours. Eligibility rules also come into play based on work records.

To be eligible for benefits under your ex-spouse’s account, you must be at least 62 years old and have no entitlement to benefits under your own work record. In contrast, if you have your own work record and the benefits are higher than the ex-spouse’s, you should claim your own benefit instead of theirs.

Let us say you and your former spouse were both eligible for benefits when you reached full retirement age. Your earned benefit amount is $2000, and your ex-spouse’s earned benefit amount is $1200.

In such a scenario, it would not make sense to collect a reduced spouse’s benefit when you could claim your earned benefit instead. Another time-related strategy involves timing your claim.

For example, if your ex-spouse has already reached full retirement age and has filed for benefits, you could file for spousal benefits based on the current earner’s record. This can be done even if you haven’t reached full retirement age; this can allow you to receive benefits without reducing the amount payable to your ex-spouse.


In conclusion, claiming social security benefits as an ex-spouse can appear complicated, but with careful planning and strategic decisions, you can maximize your benefit. Two popular strategies include delaying retirement benefits until the age of 70 and paying attention to time-related eligibility rules.

The ten-year cutoff and the impact of remarriage on benefits are two of the most important rules to keep in mind. By understanding these strategies and details, you can secure the social security benefits to which you are entitled.

In this article, we explored social security claiming strategies for ex-spouses, focusing on delayed retirement and time-related strategies. Delaying retirement benefits until age 70 can boost your payout, particularly in case your ex-spouse had a higher earning record.

We also highlighted the ten-year cutoff and the impact of remarriage on benefits. Understanding these rules and strategies can help you secure the social security benefits you deserve.

Remember, careful planning and decision-making can go a long way in maximizing your benefit.

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