Social Security $trategies for Former Spouses

Thea Glazer, CFP, CDFA, one of the foremost Certified Financial Divorce Analysts (CFDA) in San Diego, offers these excellent tips for collecting and managing your Social Security benefits:

  • If you were married for at least 10 years and are not remarried, you can receive a maximum of 50% of what your former spouse would receive at their Full Retirement Age (FRA), usually 66 or 67.
  • If ex-spouse is younger than you are, you can collect your own benefit first and then switch to collecting on their record, if it makes financial sense.
  • An excellent strategy is to apply for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record and let your own benefits accrue until age 70, the latest they can be deferred. Accrual after your FRA is at 8% per year, not a shabby return in this low interest rate environment. Below are some of the finer points:

-Your former spouse does not to have filed for his/her own benefits, but must be eligible to do so (must be at least age 62).

-Ex-spouse’s benefits will not be reduced if you collect on his/her record.  

-If you file for benefits before you reach your FRA, Social security automatically gives you the larger of your own benefit or your benefit as an ex-spouse. You are then limited and cannot switch to your own benefit at your FRA or deferred to any time up to age 70. 

-If you wait until your FRA and collect your spousal benefit based on ex-spouse’s record, you can switch to your own benefit any time between your FRA and age 70. If your FRA is age 66, waiting until age 70 increases your benefit by 32%, quite a large increase!

If you have questions or need help navigating the financial waters of a divorce or separation, please visit Thea's website: