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How to Calculate Your Social Security Amount Based on Your Divorced Spouse

by Morris Armstrong

A divorced person is entitled to receive Social Security benefits based on the earnings of his ex-spouse, provided certain conditions are met. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, and the applicant must be at least 62 years old and unmarried. In addition, the ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. As many as four people may claim benefits based on one ex-spouse's history, and payment of those benefits does not impact the ex-spouse's own primary benefit.

Visit your local Social Security office. You may find the location via their website at www.ssa.gov.

Deliver the documents listed in "Things You'll Need" to the service representative.

Listen to the representative. The benefits will be calculated based on the confidential earnings history that the Social Security Administration has on file. The amount that you are entitled to is based on both your own age and that of your ex-spouse.

Items you will need
  • Name and Social Security number of ex-spouse
  • Your Social Security card or number
  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • Divorce decree

Tips

  • If you are at full retirement age, you may choose to receive benefits based on your ex-spouse's earnings now and defer your own benefits until a later age. This could increase your own benefit due to your delay in taking it.
  • If your ex-spouse has died, you may be eligible to collect a widow's or widower's benefit at age 60.

Warnings

  • If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, your benefits may be reduced by any earned income that you receive in excess of the annual limit. The limit for 2011 is $14,160.
  • If you receive a pension from a job where you did not contribute to Social Security, your benefits may be reduced.

About the Author

Morris Armstrong of Armstrong Financial Strategies, a small investment advisory firm in Connecticut, has been writing since 2001. He has written for Multex Investors (now part of Thompson Reuters), FiLife, and "Financial Planning Magazine." He also serves as a resource to other journalists in the areas of personal finance and divorce. Armstrong earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from Pace University.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images