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Yes, noncitizens may be able to collect benefits on the earnings record of a divorced spouse. The eligibility rules can differ depending on whether the person claiming benefits lives in the United States.
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If you are lawfully present in the United States
Broadly speaking, “lawfully present” means someone who has a green card, legal temporary residency or permission to be in the country under some form of protected status — for example, an asylum seeker and refugee. In these cases, the basic criteria to get divorced-spouse benefits are the same as for a U.S. citizen:
- You are at least 62 years old.
- You have not remarried.
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years.
- Your former spouse qualifies for Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
If your ex is eligible for Social Security but has not yet claimed his or her benefits, you must meet an additional standard: You have to have been divorced for at least two years.
If you are a foreign national living abroad
You may face additional requirements, depending on where you live.
If you are a citizen or, in most cases, a legal resident of a country with which the United States has an international Social Security agreement, you have no extra hurdles. You need meet only the standard requirements listed above to draw ex-spousal benefits.
As of December 2022, the United States has such agreements with 30 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. The roster is subject to change; you'll find an up-to-date list at the Social Security website.