John J. Gilligan, a family lawyer in Long Beach, answers:
I assume that in raising your kids, you were a stay-at-home spouse during the marriage who did not work and who, therefore, did not pay earnings into the Social Security system. If you were married to your ex-husband for more than 10 years, you acquire his derivative Social Security benefits from the earnings he paid into the system during the time you were married and living together. Therefore, when you reach retirement age, you will receive a portion of these payments. You should make an appointment with the Social Security Administration to ascertain whether it is best to start collecting your benefits at 62, 65, or 70.
John Gilligan is a founding partner at the family law firm offices of Brandmeyer Gilligan Dockstader & Davidson, LLP in Long Beach, CA. John has over 30 years of experience handling family law, probate litigation, and estate planning matters. He can be reached directly at 562-431-2000.