Social Security Benefit Questions Answered

Ask the Experts by Matthew Swegles

Q: Can a newly divorced client who is 50 yrs. old, has not worked in 15 years or more, her ex owns a small company and takes a small salary, file to get some sort of benefit under his Social Security benefits now or at age 62 etc.? Will it affect his or her regular SS benefit later at retirement? How does that feature work if she wants more income eventually?

A: First, your client is not eligible to receive Social Security benefits until age 62 with an exception for survivor benefits which can begin as early as age 60.

Here is how the rules work for divorced spouses. If the marriage lasted 10 years or longer, she can receive benefits on her ex-spouse's record even if he has remarried, if she is unmarried and 62 or older. As a divorced spouse, her benefit is equal to one-half of her ex-spouse's full retirement age amount or disability benefit if she starts receiving benefits at her full retirement age.

In addition, if her ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, she can receive benefits on his record if she has been divorced for at least two years. When she claims Social Security benefits it will be based on her own work record, her ex-spouse's work record or a combination of the two.

Also, subject to potential reductions due to filing early (since her full retirement age is 67 - 30% if she files at age 62). If she remarries, she generally cannot collect benefits on her former spouse's record unless her later marriage ends, whether by death, divorce or annulment.

The rules changed last year, so she will not be able to use the file for spousal first and change to her own later. If her ex-spouse dies, she could get benefits just the same as a widow, again provided her marriage lasted 10 years or more - even if her ex had remarried. Her benefits would not affect his benefits or that of his spouse.

No matter what you have in the way of savings, investing a little time in learning more about Social Security can only be a good thing. 

Please join us for a free seminar on ways to maximize your Social Security benefits on June 8, 2017: "You've Paid Into Social Security For Decades. Don't You Want To Maximize What You Get Back?"

SAVE the DATE Social Security Seminar June 8, 2017 6:00-7:00pm Services for Older Citizens 158 Ridge Rd. GPF, MI 48236

Seminar info

Matthew Swegles is a Senior Vice President of Investments with Raymond James & Associates,. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC. Matthew is dedicated to providing investment guidance and assisting those who wish to seek financial security. The parent company, Raymond James Financial, Inc (NYSE-RJF), is a well-capitalized firm whose subsidiaries employ more than 6,000 financial advisors in over 2,500 offices throughout the United States, Canada and internationally. Swegles can be reached at 313.885.9470 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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