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Social Security Strategies for Divorced Spouses

Posted by Michael J. O'Connor | CWS®, Vice President Investments
October 1, 2014

Social Security Strategy for Divorced RetireesPlanning for Social Security benefits is complex, and if you’re divorced, you may have wondered how spousal benefits will work for you in your retirement years. One thing is for certain: when it comes to Social Security, timing is everything. Knowing and understanding your options can help improve your retirement income plan.

General Options

Just as there is flexibility for married retirees, divorced retirees have several options when it comes to Social Security. Spousal benefits are generally 50% of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefits if you file at your full retirement age (66).

Social Security Retirement Age

To collect full benefits from Social Security, you must wait until Age 66. It’s possible to begin collecting benefits at Age 62, but your benefits will be reduced. If you delay collection of your benefits until Age 70, you will be eligible for higher benefits. Working with your Financial Advisor, you can look at your individual situation and decide which age works best for you to begin collecting Social Security benefits.1

Requirements to File for Spousal Benefits

Are you eligible to file for Social Security spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record? Yes, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were married for at least 10 years.

  • You are both at least 62 years old.

There are a few other rules you need to be aware of when making plans about Social Security:

  • If you have been divorced for less than two years, your ex-spouse has to file for individual benefits in order for you to receive spousal benefits.

  • If you have been divorced more than two years, your ex-spouse doesn’t need to file for individual benefits.

  • In most cases, if you are remarried, you cannot receive spousal benefits on your former spouse’s work record. However, if your second marriage ends in divorce or death, it’s possible that your eligibility on your first spouse’s work record could be restored.

  • If you are not remarried before Age 60 and your ex-spouse passes away, you may be able to receive survivor benefits.1

Delay Yours While Taking Spousal Benefits, Collect More Later

You can delay your own benefits while receiving some of your ex-spouse’s benefits by filing a Restricted Application. This strategy can help you delay collection of your own benefits until Age 70. For every year after Age 66 that you delay collection of your own benefits, you gain 8% annually until Age 70.

Be aware that you will not be able to claim spousal benefits until your ex-spouse is at least 62. In order to receive full spousal benefits, you’ll need to file for them when you are at least 66.1

Form more social security strategies and examples, download JP Morgan’s Strategies for Divorced Individuals here.

Whichever social security option you choose should fit in to your overall retirement income plan. One of our Wealth Managers can answer your questions about your social security and retirement income situation. Give us a call at (900) 541-7774, or click here to get started on your comprehensive investment plan.

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1 JP Morgan Asset Management


To the extent this presentation includes any state or federal tax advice, the presentation is not intended or written by WrapManager, Inc. to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties. WrapManager, Inc. does not advise on any income tax requirements or issues. Use of any information presented by WrapManager, Inc. is for general information only and does not represent tax advice either express or implied. You are encouraged to seek professional tax advice for income tax questions and assistance.


Social Security Benefits Retirement Income Strategy