Can I Draw on My Divorced Husband's Social Security Benefits?

by Beverly Bird

Married couples tend to work together toward common financial goals, and divorce can derail those goals. The Social Security Administration gets this and allows you to draw on your husband's benefits regardless of divorce. It doesn't matter if he was married before, and his ex is collecting on his work record as well, nor does it matter if you divorce him and he later remarries. A lot of other rules apply, however.

Length of Marriage

You can't collect on your ex-husband's Social Security benefits if your marriage was of short duration – with one exception. Typically, you must be married at least 10 years to draw on your spouse's benefits, unless you have a child together who's younger than 16 or disabled. If you're currently married, you need only be married a year.

Remarriage

Although your ex-husband's marital status doesn't affect whether you can draw on his Social Security benefits, your own marital status counts. If you're divorced and want to collect on your ex's work record, and assuming your marriage passed the 10-year mark, you can't remarry. If you do, you can collect on your current spouse's benefits after a year, but you can no longer draw on your ex's benefits unless and until you divorce your current spouse or he dies.

Your Age

You must be at least 62 years old to collect Social Security benefits – either your own, or those earned by your spouse but this rule also changes if you have a child together. You can collect on your ex's benefits if your child is disabled or younger than 16. However, your benefits stop when your child reaches 16, or if a time comes when he's no longer disabled.

Your Husband's Age

Another critical factor is your husband's age. You can only collect on his benefits if he has reached retirement age as well, whether you're still married or divorced. He doesn't actually have to apply for his own benefits; he must only be eligible to do so. If he hasn't applied yet, you must wait two years from the date of your divorce if you're not still married. Your husband is eligible to collect Social Security at age 62 if he worked and contributed for at least 10 years.

Your Benefits Vs. Your Husband's

The issue of collecting on your husband's work record becomes a little more complicated if you're eligible for your own benefits. If your benefits are more, you don't have the option of drawing on his instead. Spouses typically collect 50 percent of their partner's monthly benefit amount. If you're entitled to $900 a month based on your own work record, and if your spouse is entitled to $1,500 based on his, you can draw on his benefits because his are greater – but you would receive only $750 a month. However, you can delay taking your own benefits at age 62 and draw on his instead. The longer you wait to begin collecting on your own work record, the greater your benefits will be. If you draw on your spouse's benefits for a few years, you can then elect to switch over to collecting your own, which at that point might be far more than $900 a month.

About the Author

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

Photo Credits

  • senior woman image by Jesús Arias from Fotolia.com