Here is a summary of how Social Security works for ex-spouses:
• A divorced spouse may receive Social Security benefits based either upon his or her own contributions or possibly as a spouse or ex-spouse of a contributor.
• If a divorced spouse was married for ten years or more, he or she can collect either fifty percent of the value of the ex-spouse’s benefit, or one hundred percent of his or her own benefit, whichever is greater.
• The divorced spouse must be at least 62 years of age and unmarried.
• The divorced spouse must have been divorced for at least two years before he or she can start collecting from the contributing ex-spouse, unless the ex-spouse is at least 62 and already receiving benefits.
• If the divorced spouse remarries, he or she is no longer eligible for a percentage of the benefits from the previous ex-spouse. If the remarriage terminates, the divorced spouse once again becomes eligible for benefits from the previous ex-spouse.
• There is no reduction in benefits for the primary contributor even though the ex-spouse receives the value of a percentage of his or her benefits.
• If the contributing spouse is deceased, the surviving ex-spouse can collect benefits at age 60 as long as he or she has not remarried.
It is helpful to be aware of the 10-year marriage rule if you are just months short of that magic number and seeking a divorce.