When do you qualify for a former spouse’s Social Security?

by | Dec 28, 2022 | Divorce

Many people in California make professional sacrifices when they enter into marriage. This is particularly common among women, many of whom wind up giving up their education or careers so that they may stay home and raise a family. How much you worked in a particular type of position helps determine if you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. If your marriage ends and you do not qualify for these benefits on your own accord, you may be able to qualify for them based on your former husband or former wife’s work history.

CNBC reports that about 30% of people have no idea that collecting Social Security retirement benefits under an ex-spouse’s name may be an option for them.

What determines eligibility

Whether you, your ex or anyone else qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits depends on how many “credits” you have. How many credits you have depends on how long you worked in a professional role where you paid Social Security taxes. If your ex has enough credits to qualify for these benefits but you do not, you may collect them under your ex’s work record if two things are true. First, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. Second, you must not have remarried since your marriage ended.

What determines how much you take home

If you collect these benefits using your ex’s earnings history, the most you might collect each month is half of how much he or she does.

If you choose to use your ex’s earnings history to get these benefits, it should not raise ire because your decision to do so does not impact your ex-spouse’s monthly check amount.