Many people fail to realize their ability to get Social Security benefits from their spouse after a divorce. But if you are divorced from a spouse to whom you were married for 10 years or more, you have a right to draw Social Security income totaling 50% of your former spouse’s benefits. The total amount you can get will depend on your age when you opt to start receiving those benefits.

For those who wish to take Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse, it is important to remember that the earlier you take the money, the less money you will get. You can begin receiving these benefits at the age of 62 but will reap more income if you wait until age 66. The decision to take Social Security income from an ex-spouse should be made based on financial need. If you need income to keep bills paid at an earlier age, it may be necessary to take less. If you can wait as long as possible, you will get more income.

However, it is important to note, if you start taking benefits before your full retirement age and continue to work for supplemental income, you may end up reducing the amount of benefits you can receive. If you wait until full retirement age to collect from an ex-spouse, your additional earnings will not affect your benefits no matter how much they total.

Retirement planning can be complicated but it is in your best interest to know what income you are entitled to receive and what resources you can utilize to get income during your retirement years. Overlooking your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits is something you should not do and preparing early will make it easier to make important decisions for your later years.