Social Security benefits can be an important part of your retirement plans. You might be able to claim benefits based on your own work record or based on your ex-spouse’s work record. Some New Jersey residents, however, might be surprised to find that the rules for receiving Social Security spousal benefits are different based on your birthdate.
Why are there two different sets of rules?
There are two different sets of rules because the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changed the criteria for claiming Social Security spousal benefits when the couple has dissolved their marriage. The original criteria still fully apply to those born before Jan. 2, 1954 while some changes have been made for those born on or after this date.
Social Security spousal benefits for ex-spouses
There are specific criteria for ex-spouses to file for Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse’s work record apply. These include:
- The couple must have been married for 10 years or more
- The person collecting on their ex-spouse’s record must be single
- The person collecting benefits should be at least 62 years old
- If 2 years have passed since the divorce, the person can collect benefits even if their ex-spouse has not begun collecting
How birthdate makes a difference
The big difference that birthdate makes is related to additional conditions of filing for Social Security spousal benefits. Ex-spouses born before Jan. 2, 1954 are able to file to receive benefits on their ex-spouse’s work record while suspending benefits on their own record until a later date. Those born on or after, however, file for all benefits simultaneously and then receive the highest benefit amount. They cannot switch later to receive benefits from a different work record.
Social Security spousal benefits are different from survivor’s benefits and follow different rules. It is important to be clear about which you are claiming and the criteria applied so you can receive the maximum benefit available to you.