Whether you and your ex-spouse separated years before or recently split in a grey divorce, your Social Security benefits may hang in the balance. In the same way your spouse or child may apply, your ex-spouse can file if eligible.
The total of this amount varies depending on your benefit amount and there is a maximum, but as the Social Security website points out, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if they meet certain requirements.
How are they eligible?
Not every ex-spouse receives Social Security benefits as divorcees. As your ex, they may receive these benefits if their own benefit is less than yours, they remained unmarried after the divorce, they are age 62 or older and your marriage lasted ten years or more. All of this revolves around the core requirement that you qualify for Social Security or disability benefits in the first place. You do not have to be receiving Social Security benefits at the time — you just need to be eligible.
How do they benefit?
Your ex-spouse receives their own retirement benefits first and, if your own benefits are higher, receive an additional amount to equal that higher record. Be aware there is a caveat for those born before 1954 who can receive only one benefit while delaying their own for a later date. Working and receiving other pensions not covered by Social Security (like government work) affects these Social Security benefits.
It is important to note that, like family benefits, this does not reduce the amount you may receive. If you remarry, your ex-spouse is still eligible provided they meet the other requirements.