Many people don’t realize that they are eligible for Social Security divorced spouse benefits so they never end up applying for them. That was the case for a recent participant in my Maximizing Social Security class. After the class, he went through the process of getting his divorced spouse benefits and laid out his experience for you to learn from below.
I have just received my first divorced spouse benefit payment and I am thrilled. I credit you for providing the information on how to receive this previously unknown benefit after attending your classes and our in office conference. To summarize, this is the procedure I followed which was surprisingly easy and quick.
The requirements state I have to be of Full Retirement Age (FRA). The official requirements are stated on the SSA website, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html and they state that I have to be presently unmarried with my previous marriage being of ten years in length. I plan to postpone my own benefits until I am age 70, but will continue to receive my divorced spouse benefit until that time. An important factor is you can only receive one or the other, not collect from both. Once I turn age 70 and apply for my own benefit, I stop receiving divorced spouse benefit. Also, based on your advice I requested back benefits from the time I turned 66 which was 6 months prior. So my first check included 6 months of back benefits, a wonderful surprise!
The procedure is this… I initially registered with the Social Security website, SSA.GOV and entered the information required for applying for benefits including length of marriage, Social Security numbers of both myself and ex-spouse, and our birth dates. I then received a confirmation email, listing the official documents required to process the application. I received a personal email from the benefits counselor in Richmond, California, requesting a CERTIFIED copy of my marriage certificate. I had to apply to the county where I was married with a signed and notarized application to receive it. I also had to send an original copy of the final divorce decree, FL-190, which documented that the marriage was over 10 years in length. These documents then can either be sent directly to the Richmond, California SSA office or brought to a local SSA office for processing.
After these were sent, I received an email from my contact in Richmond, California that the application was being processed and once approved, the funds will be direct deposited in my bank account within 2 weeks. The entire process from initial application to receiving my payment took 4 weeks.
I thank you Derrik for greasing the wheels and for your advice in applying for this benefit. Until I attended your class, this benefit was unknown to me. I thought I could only apply for my own benefit as I am unmarried.
Again, thank you sincerely!”
Divorced spouse benefit is just one of the topics we cover in the Maximizing Social Security class. If you’d like to maximize the income you get from Social Security, register for our next class.