While spousal support may become an important source of your income, at retirement age, you will need every penny you can get to maintain the standard of living you used to enjoy while married. Lawmakers understand that, often, one spouse earned considerably less during the course of the marriage but contributed more nonfinancially. So, the Social Security Administration extends the possibility to you of collecting Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work record.
The Motley Fool, a financial and investment advisory company, explains the eligibility requirements to obtain these benefits.
This benefit is for people who contributed to long-term marriages, so you can only receive it if your marital relationship lasted at least 10 years. Also, you can only receive it if you are currently unmarried. If you marry someone new, this option is no longer available to you. However, it does not matter to your eligibility whether your spouse remarries or remains single.
Work record requirements
This benefit is not for people who are already receiving benefits on their own record that exceed what their spouse is eligible for. If, during your marriage, you were eligible for a check based on your spouse’s record that exceeded your own, then you are likely eligible now.
You cannot begin claiming benefits before the age of 62. Also, in most cases, your former spouse must already be claiming benefits before you can also claim them based on his or her record. However, if it has been at least two years since your divorce, and your spouse is eligible but has not claimed benefits yet, you do not have to wait on him or her to make the first move.
If you do begin claiming at age 62 rather than waiting until you reach full retirement age, your benefit checks will be smaller. However, if you need support now, this may be an option to consider.