The Basics: A person can collect Social Security benefits based on her own earnings history or 50% of her spouse or former spouses’ benefit, if greater than her own. If the spouse or former spouse is deceased, she can typically collect 100% of her spouse’s benefit (i.e. the higher benefit “lives on”). The value of a person’s benefits also depends on the age at which benefits are initiated relative to her Full Retirement Age (FRA). FRA is determined by her year of birth and currently ranging from ages 65 to 67.
Early Benefits – If benefits are initiated prior to FRA, income is reduced by 5-6.67% per year.
Delayed Retirement Credits – If benefits are initiated post-FRA, income is increased by 8% per year thereafter up to the maximum benefit at age 70. Spousal benefits do not earn delayed retirement credits, so delaying spousal benefits past FRA is not recommended.
Specifics for Divorced Women
Therefore, as long as you were married at least 10 years and do not remarry before age 60, your social security benefit options will be the same as if you had stayed married.
Heather Locus is a principal at Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC, a fee-only wealth management firm with approximately $2.5 Billion under management. Heather is passionate about helping women make smart financial decisions so they can enjoy their wealth. As an owner and leader of BDF’s Women’s Service Team, Heather provides financial guidance to divorcees and business owners before, during and after the challenging transitions in their lives. Visit her firm website.