En español | Yes. You are eligible to collect spousal benefits on your former wife’s or husband’s earnings record as long as:
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years.
- You have not remarried.
- You are at least 62 years of age.
- Your ex-spouse is entitled to collect Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
Your former spouse doesn't have to be collecting his or her retirement benefits yet for you to claim ex-spousal benefits. However, if this is the case, the divorce must be at least two years old. (There is no such requirement if your ex is already receiving benefits.)
The most you can collect in divorced-spouse benefits is 50 percent of your former mate's primary insurance amount — the monthly payment he or she is entitled to at full retirement age (currently 66 but gradually rising to 67 over the next several years). You can get that maximum if you file for benefits when you reach full retirement age, if you claim earlier, the benefit amount is reduced.
You can file online (via an application form or your My Social Security account); by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213; or by making an appointment at your local Social Security office. [Editor’s note: The Social Security Administration temporarily closed local offices to the public on March 17, 2020, in response to the coronavirus threat. Social Security services remain available online and by phone. We will update this article when the field offices reopen.]
The earliest you can apply is three months before your 62nd birthday. You may need to provide documents to show eligibility, including proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status, a marriage certificate, and a divorce decree.
Keep in mind
- If you are already receiving retirement benefits on your own work record, you can also claim any ex-spousal benefits you are eligible for, but Social Security will not pay you both combined. You’ll receive whichever amount is higher and no more.
Updated April 1, 2020