Social security retirement benefits are payable based on the individual’s earnings history as well as age of retirement. Full retirement age is presently 66 years old. The benefit is reduced if electing to receive the benefit earlier. The minimum age to start collecting is presently 62 years old. An individual can elect to receive benefits under the spouse’s earnings history instead. An individual may receive up to 50% of their spouse’s benefit. This does not impact the spouse’s benefit in any way. An individual may elect to receive under their spouse’s benefit if their earnings history was substantially higher.
Even after divorce it may be possible to collect under your prior spouse’s earnings history. There are a few conditions that must be met. First, you must have been married for a minimum of ten (10) years. Second, you must not have remarried. Third, you must be at least 62 years old. Finally, the amount you will receive under your ex-spouse’s earnings history must be more than what you would receive based on your own work history. Electing to receive under your ex-spouse’s history will not affect any new spouse. Retirement benefits may also be payable to your children until they are 18 or graduate high school, whichever is later.