Photo of Kenneth L. Gibson Jr.
Photo of Kenneth L. Gibson Jr.
Photo of Kenneth L. Gibson Jr.

After divorce, can you get Social Security benefits based on your ex’s income?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2023 | divorce | 0 comments

In some cases, there can be quite a mismatch between the earning capacity of two spouses as they get divorced. For example, perhaps a woman left the workforce to help raise her family, knowing that her spouse was a high earner and would be able to support them easily. But now that they’re getting divorced, it’s clear that there her ex-husband will still have a high income and she’s not sure what she is supposed to do.

For example, would it be possible for the woman in this hypothetical situation to get Social Security benefits that are based on the income of her ex-husband, which is much higher than her own?

There are qualifications that must be met

First and foremost, this certainly is possible in some situations. It is even possible if her ex-husband was to get remarried. But there are still different qualifications that have to be met, including the following:

  • The woman meets the other qualifications for Social Security disability benefits or retirement benefits, and is entitled to them
  • Her ex is at least 62 years old
  • The woman in this situation has not gotten remarried, even if her former husband has
  • The two were married for at least 10 years

Finally, the benefits that someone is entitled to get based on their spouse’s work history and income level must be more financially significant than the benefits that they would receive from their own work history and income level. In other words, there would be an advantage in receiving Social Security based on their ex’s income, as is almost certainly the case in this situation.

What steps do you need to take?

This example illustrates that eligibility is possible and that you may be able to seek benefits if you find yourself in a position like the one described above. However, you can see how complicated and strict the process can be. Make sure that you know exactly what legal options you have at your disposal and what steps you’ll need to take if you need to seek benefits based on your ex’s income instead of your own.


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Photo of Kenneth L. Gibson Jr.