Income Security After Divorce: Collecting Social Security On Your Ex’s Earnings Record

Sometimes a survivor’s annuity, such as the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) or Former Spouse Survivor Annuity (FSSA), isn’t available in military or Federal civil service divorce because a the benefit was awarded in its entirety in an earlier divorce.  All hope for income security might not be lost for the newly divorced spouse.  As a divorced spouse, you can collect Social Security on your ex-spouse’s earnings record if:

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years;
  • You have not not remarried;
  • You are at least 62 years of age;
  • Your Social Security entitlement based on your own earnings record is less than the entitlement based on your ex-spouse’s record; and,
  • Your ex-spouse is eligible to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits–and, if your ex-spouse is eligible for but not yet receiving benefits, then you have been divorced at least 2 years.

Once qualified and receiving benefits, your payments will continue even after your ex-spouse dies.  Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for more information as other conditions and restrictions sometimes apply.

Author Jim Cramp is the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm.  Jim retired from the U.S. Air Force in the grade of colonel after 29 1/2 years active duty service.  The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.