Does an ex’s work record make you eligible for Social Security?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Divorce

When you live in Massachusetts and reach retirement age, whether you receive Social Security retirement benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration depends on your work history. More specifically, your eligibility for these benefits depends on how long you spent working a job that paid into the nation’s Social Security system. However, after a divorce, you may, depending on circumstances, be able to collect these benefits if your former spouse qualifies for them, but you do not.

CNBC reports that about 30% of Americans do not realize that their former spouse’s work histories might make them eligible for this significant retirement benefit.

What makes you eligible

As long as your spouse qualifies for these benefits upon reaching retirement age, you become eligible for them based on his or her earnings record if your marriage lasted 10 years or more. However, you must not remarry if you plan to collect these benefits based on your former partner’s earnings history.

What makes the most financial sense

Should you decide to take this “spousal benefit,” know that the maximum amount you receive as a former spouse is half of the amount your spouse gets in his or her Social Security retirement check. Thus, if you also worked long enough in a Social Security-covered job to qualify for retirement benefits using your own work history, you may want to figure out which method would allow you to collect more.

In the event that your former spouse passes away, you may have the option of collecting survivor benefits, depending on the specifics of your situation.