Should I Divorce My Spouse In Order To Get More Social Security Benefits?

Can you collect Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse if you have remarried since your original divorce?

It’s actually more complicated than the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes it sound. There are many reasons why a remarried spouse might seek retirement benefits from an ex. Let’s use an example: suppose you are remarried and you collect Social Security. Your current spouse is still working, but perhaps you could use a little extra to help with bills, such as your current spouse’s recurring medical expenses. Is it possible to collect on a retired ex’s Social Security so that your current spouse can retire without breaking the bank?

According to the SSA, you can collect Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse’s retirement if you were married for 10 years, but you cannot be remarried. This begs another question: should you and your current spouse get a divorce so that you can collect on your ex’s benefits, in addition to your own and your current spouse’s?

Explaining The Excess Divorced Spousal Benefit

If you choose to divorce your current spouse in order to “triple-dip,” as it were, on Social Security benefits, you need to understand how the excess divorced spousal benefit works.

The excess divorced spousal benefit is equal to 50 percent of your ex’s Social Security benefits, minus 100 percent of your own. The surplus will be added to your own benefits. So your first step is to figure out if this equation leads to a better outcome for you, considering the costs of divorcing your current spouse as well as any changes that need to be made regarding estate planning, wills, etc. If it would be a boon for you, then you don’t need to worry about the SSA coming knocking ”“ but think carefully about the benefits of marriage you would lose and whether those outweigh the excess divorced spousal benefit you would receive.

Our Denver family law attorneys are well-versed in matters that pertain to divorcing retired couples and can help you plot out your best course moving forward.