Getting remarried: Since three-quarters of U.S. divorcees get married again, it’s also important to understand that remarrying makes you ineligible for divorced spouse’s benefits unless the later marriage ends.
And, for those who have been married and divorced twice, with both marriages lasting more than 10 years, you can collect using the ex-spouse with the larger Social Security benefit.
Divorced survivor: You also need to know that if your ex-spouse dies and you were married for 10 or more years, you become eligible for divorced “survivor benefits,” which is worth up to 100 percent of what your ex-spouse was due.
Survivor’s benefits are available to divorced spouses as early as age 60 (50 if you’re disabled). But if you remarry before 60, you become ineligible unless the marriage ends. Remarrying after age 60 will not affect your eligibility.
Also note that if you are receiving divorced spouses benefits when you ex-spouse dies, you will automatically be switched over to the higher-paying survivor benefit.
Switching strategies: Being divorced also offers some switching strategies that can help boost your benefits. For working divorced spouses, there’s an option that lets you file a “restricted” application with Social Security (at full retirement age) to collect a divorced spousal benefit, which is half of what your ex gets.
Then, once you reach 70, you stop receiving the ex-spousal benefit and switch to your own benefit, which will be 32 percent higher than it would have been at your full retirement age.
Divorced widows (and widowers) have even more options. If, for example, you are collecting Social Security retirement benefits on your own record and your ex-spouse dies, you can switch to survivor’s benefits if the payment is larger. Or if you’re collecting survivor’s benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits — between 62 and 70 — if it offers a larger payment.