I’m 56 years old, and recently divorced after 30-plus years of marriage. I believe I’m entitled to a portion of my ex-husband’s Social Security. His benefit will be higher than mine. What must I do to receive my portion?

When you qualify for it, make an appointment at your local Social Security Administration field office. Bring a photo ID, your marriage certificate and divorce decree, and proofs of age and U.S. citizenship or legal residence. It’s helpful to have your ex’s Social Security number, but not essential.

To qualify for Social Security on a former spouse’s earnings, you must meet five conditions: 1) Your marriage lasted at least 10 years. 2) You’re currently unmarried. 3) Your benefit based on your ex’s work record exceeds the one you’d collect based on your own record. 4) Your ex is eligible to claim Social Security — i.e., he’s at least 62 years old or disabled — even if he hasn’t yet applied for it. 5) You’re at least 62 years old.

If you’re eligible, you can claim a spousal benefit during your ex’s lifetime and a survivor’s benefit after his death. The maximum spousal benefit is 50 percent of his benefit amount at his full retirement age. If his full benefit is $1,200, for example, your maximum spousal benefit is $600. The maximum survivor’s benefit is 100 percent of what he was entitled to receive when he died.

But to collect those maximum amounts, you must delay your application(s) until your own full retirement age. That’s 67 years old for people born in 1960 or later. Younger applicants get less. For example, if you file for a spousal benefit at age 62, you receive 35 percent of your ex’s full benefit, not 50 percent.

THE BOTTOM LINE Divorced people can sometimes collect Social Security based on a former spouse’s record.



advertisement | advertise on newsday