How much social security does an ex spouse get?

The ex spouse of a worker covered by social security may qualify for a benefit equal to 50 percent of the insured worker’s primary insurance amount while the worker is living and 100 percent of the insured worker’s primary insurance amount after the insured workers death. See: 42 USC 402(b)(2),(c)(2),(e)(2)(a), (f)(3)(A). The benefits paid to the divorced spouse do not decrease the benefits paid to the insured spouse. See: 42 USC 402(b)(1), (b)(5)(A), (c)(1), (c)(5)(A) and 42 USC 416(d).


10 year requirement.

To qualify for you ex spouse social security benefit the divorced spouse must have been married to the insured worker for a period of 10 years immediately before the date of divorce became effective. See: 42 USC 416(d) but the divorce spouse does not have to meet the 10 year requirement for survivor benefits if he or she cares for the insured worker’s child who is under the age of 16 or receiving social security disability benefits. A divorced mother or father’s survivor benefit equals 75% of the deceased workers benefit. See: 42 USC 402(g)(1), (g)(2) and 416 (d)(3), (d)(6).

You cannot collect both your ex spouse social security if your individual benefit is larger.

To qualify for your ex spouse social security benefits, the ex spouse benefit must be greater than your benefit. The ex spouse is entitled to the larger of the two benefits and not both. See: 42 USC 402(b)(1)(D), (c)(1)(D).

Effect of remarriage on social security benefits.

If the divorce spouse remarries, he/she is not entitled to the ex spouse social security unless the remarriage of the surviving divorced spouse occurs after the age of 60 and other restrictions. See: 42 USC 402(b)(1)(H), (c)(1)(H), (c)(4), (e)(1), (e)(3), (f)(1), (f)(4).

In sum, a divorced spouse is entitled 50% of his/her ex spouse social security if he/she was married for 10 years and the benefit is larger. You are not entitled to both. There is no reduction in the insured benefits. For example, if husband is entitled to $2000 in social security benefits and wife is entitled to $300 in benefits, wife can elect to receive $1000 in her former husband’s benefits with no reduction in benefits to the husband.

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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

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