3. Does your spouse need to receive benefits for you to qualify for spousal benefits?
Just 20% of older Americans were aware that you cannot claim benefits on your spouse’s work record unless your spouse has already claimed benefits. Not knowing this basic fact affects your ability to devise a claiming strategy with your spouse that maximizes combined household income.
It’s equally important to know the exception to this rule, though. If you’ve divorced after 10 years (or more) of marriage, you can claim spousal benefits and don’t have to wait until your ex claims them first. As long as you’ve been divorced for at least two years, you haven’t remarried, and your ex-spouse has reached the age of 62, you can start your spousal benefits whenever you’d like.
4. Can divorced spouses receive spousal benefits?
This question was the one older Americans were most likely to get correct. A full 67% of seniors knew they can get spousal benefits after divorce, provided the marriage lasted at least 10 years. What you can’t do, however, is collect both your own benefits and your spousal benefits at the same time, so don’t count on double-dipping.