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Can I collect Social Security as a divorced spouse and wait to claim my own retirement benefit?

En español | You can file what Social Security calls a “restricted application” to claim only ex-spousal benefits and postpone claiming your retirement benefits if: 

  • You were born before Jan. 2, 1954. 
  • You have reached full retirement age (currently 66, gradually rising to 67 over the next several years). 
  • You were married for at least 10 years to your former spouse.
  • You are currently unmarried. 
  • Your former spouse has filed for his or her own Social Security benefits or your ex-spouse is at least 62 and you have been divorced at least two years.

Divorced spouses who don’t qualify for a restricted application are subject to Social Security’s “deemed filing” rule. Under this rule, individuals filing for retirement benefits who are also eligible for spousal benefits must claim both at the same time. The provision applies to divorced as well as married filers. 

Keep in mind

  • There is one more exception to deemed filing for divorced spouses. Regardless of when you were born, you can file a restricted application if you are entitled to Social Security disability payments.
  • Deemed filing does not cover survivor benefits. If your former spouse is deceased, you can apply for and collect benefits on his or her record and delay your own retirement claim.

Updated October 23, 2020

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