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Question: I have a client who is applying for Social Security retirement benefits on his own work record. The client is divorced, and the client believes that his benefit would be higher based on his wife’s record. The client is older than the ex-wife. Is the client eligible to apply for benefits based on her record?
Answer: Yes, if the ex-spouse is already old enough to qualify for retirement benefits.
Here’s what the Social Security Administration says about retirement benefits for an ex-spouse:
If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if:
- Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
- Your ex-spouse is unmarried;
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
- The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on his or her own work is less than the benefit he or she would receive based on your work; and
- You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two years.
A divorced spouse is eligible to receive spousal Social Security retirement benefits based on the ex-spouse’s earnings record when the ex-spouse becomes eligible to receive benefits.
Here’s a web page from the Social Security Administration which describes the availability of the benefit and the method for applying:
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