Unlocking Hidden Social Security Benefits After Multiple Marriages

Did you know that even if you’ve been married and divorced more than once, you might still be eligible for certain Social Security benefits? It’s true! Many women are unaware of the opportunities available to them when it comes to drawing benefits from former spouses. Let’s dive in and explore how understanding your Social Security rights can make a huge difference in your retirement planning!

Discovering Your Eligibility

Don’t miss out on what you deserve! It’s surprising how many women don’t realize they can actually draw Social Security benefits from a former spouse. Sometimes they’ve been misled by their divorce agreement, mistakenly thinking they gave up all rights to their ex’s retirement. Others believe that their ex-spouse must give consent for them to access spousal benefits. But let me tell you, understanding your Social Security rights can have a significant impact on your retirement planning!

The Magic of Ten Years

Duration matters when it comes to benefits. Here’s an important detail: in order to be eligible for spousal Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse, your marriage must have lasted ten years—no less. Not 9.5 years or two days short of a decade. We’re talking about a solid ten-year period. If you happen to remarry, that puts an end to your ability to draw benefits from your former spouse. However, after just one year of marriage, you become eligible to draw Social Security benefits from your new spouse. And here’s the twist: if that second marriage ends, you regain eligibility to draw benefits from your prior spouse.

The Benefits of Being Choosy

You might be wondering, “If I’ve had multiple marriages that qualify, which former spouse should I draw retirement benefits from?” The answer is quite simple: you’ll draw from the former spouse who had the highest income. Many women assume they can only draw benefits based on their ex-spouse’s earnings during the marriage. But guess what? Social Security allows a lower-earning spouse, whether male or female, to draw benefits from the higher-earning spouse if the latter’s amount is double that of the former. So, if you were a stay-at-home mom or only worked part-time during your life, drawing up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s retirement can significantly boost your monthly Social Security check.

Unveiling the Details

At this point you might be wondering, “How do I figure out which former spouse earned more?” Well, my friend, only the Social Security Administration can provide you with that information. To access this private data, you’ll need to provide your marriage license and divorce decree. The SSA requires original documents or certified copies, which can take some time to obtain from the county where you were married and divorced.

Privacy and Benefits

There’s no need to worry about your ex-spouse. Don’t fret! Some people are concerned about whether the SSA will notify their ex-spouse when they start drawing benefits. Unless the ex-spoouse calls and asks, the SSA won’t notify him about you receiving spousal benefits. Rest assured that his own monthly check won’t be impacted when you begin drawing benefits. This also holds true for his current wife’s benefits and any other former ex-wives’ benefits.

Maximizing Your Benefits

Timing is everything. Now that you may be excited about the possibility of a higher social security check, let’s explain what I mean when I say you are “eligible for up to 50% of his amount.” In order to get the full 50%, you’ll have to wait to begin drawing Social Security until you reach your full retirement age. You can choose to draw as early as age 62, but you’ll be locking in a permanently reduced amount of about 30% of his benefit. To see more on this, you can download my free 2023 Social Security and Medicare Cheat Sheet on my website www.TheMedicareFamily.com at the top of the page click on the tab for resources. Your former spouse doesn’t have to be drawing his own Social Security for you to draw off of him. As long as he is age 62, and you have been divorced at least 2 years, you can draw. And if your former spouse did decide to start his own Social Security early and take a permanent reduction in his own benefits—this won’t impact you!

You are still eligible to draw up to 50% of the amount he would have been eligible to draw had he waited to draw until he reached his full retirement age. In other words, his choice of when to draw will no hurt you. How much you will eventually get is up to you and the age that you decide to start your benefits.



Sylvia Gordon and her sister, Rebecca, run Gordon Marketing, one of the nation’s largest Medicare FMO/NMA offices. They have a team of over 100 that train and support independent insurance agents in all 50 states. You can find Sylvia’s weekly posts on LinkedIn and the sisters' Youtube channel posts 2 training videos each week. Contact Sylvia at sgordon@gordonmarketing.com or 800-388-8342.


Looking For A New FMO Home? Let Us Be Your 2022 Back Office!

Ask About Marketing Money (to Grow Your Business), Win Trips, & More!  Learn more…