Divorced wives are entitled to draw on their ex-husbands’ Social Security disability, survivors and retirement benefits if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Their eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by several factors, including length of marriage, age and work status. However, having work incomes exceeding guidelines set by the Social Security Administration is one of several factors that reduce ex-wives entitled Social Security benefits.
Social Security Disability
Divorced wives are eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits on their former spouses’ records if they are at least 62 years of age and have been married for at least 10 years. Ex-wives must also be unmarried and not be eligible to receive benefits equal to or higher on her's or another person's records.
Social Security Retirement
Ex-wives have additional decisions to make that impact the amount of Social Security retirement benefits they can collect. For instance, ex-wives can elect to postpone receiving retirement benefits on their divorced spouses’ records to a later age and continue to work. Doing so increases their benefit amounts when they retire. Also, ex-wives can file for retirement payments on their divorced husbands’ records even if they aren’t receiving their own benefits. However, divorces must be two years old for ex-wives to collect in this manner.
Social Security Survivors
Divorced wives are also eligible to receive Social Security survivors benefits of their late former husbands if they were married for 10 years. However, the marriage rule is voided if divorced wives are taking care of their former husbands’ children who are under the age of 16 and receiving benefits under his records.
There are scenarios under each Social Security program where divorced wives receive benefits less than what they’re entitled to under their former husbands’ records. For Social Security disability program, divorced wives who receive pensions from work not covered under Social Security, such as government positions, will have their benefits offset by the Social Security Administration. Under the Social Security retirement program, ex-wives who are eligible to receive benefits on her records receive those first, but if they are less than what she would collect under her divorced spouses’ records, she receives a combination under both records to equal the higher amounts. The Social Security survivors program pays divorced wives 100 percent of their entitled amounts if they reach full retirement age. However, they can receive as low as 71.5 percent if they receive benefits at an earlier age.
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