Arin R. Fife, a family lawyer in Chicago, answers:
You may be entitled to a portion of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, including survivor benefits, as long as you have been married for at least ten years, your work credits do not exceed half of your ex-spouse’s, and you do not remarry. If you are in the process of divorce and are approaching your ten-year marriage date, you may wish to delay the divorce. Once you pass the ten-year mark, you are entitled to these benefits with no negative effect on your spouse. Some states consider this an offset against accumulation during marriage. Ask your lawyer for clarification in your state.