Regardless of whether you stayed in touch with your ex . . . even if you never want to speak with him or her again . . . you may be eligible to collect Social Security spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record.
The rules are fairly straightforward. If you were married for at least 10 years, you are age 62 or older and your former spouse is 62 or older (or otherwise entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits,) you have been divorced for at least two years and are now single, you could qualify.
It does not matter if your ex has remarried. Your tapping into his or her Social Security benefits will not affect his or her benefits or what his or her current family receives from Social Security. In fact, if you’re concerned your ex will find out you are receiving these benefits, don’t worry. Social Security is not permitted to share this information so your ex-spouse won’t even know it’s happening.
If you remarried, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse's record unless your subsequent marriage ended by death, divorce or annulment. The benefits you are entitled to receive based on your ex’s work record must be more than what you are entitled to receive based on your own record.
If you think you may be eligible, contact Social Security to make a determination. They will take into account many variables including your current work status, your ex’s work record and whether your ex is living or deceased when you apply. To contact Social Security, call 800-772-1213.