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Divorce Decree and Social Security

August 03, 2018

Can A Divorce Decree Keep You From Collecting Ex's Spouse Social Security Benefits?

Some divorcees are saying in their divorce decree they signed a paper that they won’t collect their ex’s Social Security benefits. They might say,  “I was married 30 years, I haven't remarried, but my ex-spouse had me sign an agreement that I wouldn’t collect their Social Security. They remarried. Is there any way I can get around the agreement?"

Yes, an ex-spouse can claim their divorced-spouse benefit based on their ex-spouses' work record regardless of the divorce decree.

Divorced-spouse benefits can be confusing. Sometimes an ex-wife thinks that her claiming a divorced-spouse benefit, will somehow take away from the ex-husband’s benefit or if he remarries, the spousal benefit payable to his current wife, but this is not correct. Also, she might confuse Social Security benefits with pension benefits. It is indeed possible to divide pension benefits in a divorce. A divorced person needs to understand that even though she may have signed away rights to her spouse’s pension, she is still entitled to Social Security benefits based on his earnings record.