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Collecting Social Security benefits based on a disabled ex-spouse

Many people depend greatly on their Social Security benefits during their retirement years. As you probably already know, the amount of retirement you receive from the Social Security Administration depends on your work history.

In order to be fair to spouses who did not work outside of the home or earned less than their spouses, people are allowed to collect a Social Security benefit based on their husband or wife’s work record instead of their own if that would lead to a larger benefit.

The good news for divorced people is that it is also possible to collect benefits based on an ex-husband or ex-wife’s work record if certain conditions are met, including:

  • The marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer;
  • You must not be re-married (if you have been married more than once for longer than 10 years you can collect benefits based on either ex-spouse’s earning record);
  • You are 62 or older; and
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to retirement benefits. (If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for retirement benefits but qualifies, you must also have been divorced for at least two years.)

As a recent article in Forbes pointed out, it is also possible to collect retirement benefits based on an ex-spouse’s disability benefit. If your ex-spouse is collecting disability benefits, you are free to apply for your ex-spouse’s benefit even if your ex-spouse is under 62. (Though you still have to have been divorced for at least two years.)

An experienced disability lawyer can provide you with more information on the Social Security benefits you may be entitled to.

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