Individuals in Arizona may be entitled to receive spousal benefits from the Social Security Administration even after they have divorced. The SSA will, in many cases, continue to acknowledge the relationship with a former spouse and continue to pay benefits based on the ex-spouse's work history. In order to qualify for such benefits, though, certain SSA requirements must be met.
First, the marriage must have lasted for a minimum of 10 years. This ensures that long-term marriages will result in at least some level of security for the parties following divorce.
Second, in order to collect spousal benefits based on a marriage that has been terminated, the receiving spouse must remain single after the divorce. In a case where an individual qualifies for benefits post-divorce but then remarries and divorces again, it may be possible to collect Social Security benefits based on the work record of the original spouse.
An individual is not required to wait for his or her ex-spouse to apply for Social Security benefits. Rather, a person may be able to collect if his or her ex-spouse has reached the age of 62 and the divorce occurred at least two years prior to the date of filing for benefits. The person applying to collect must also be at least 62 years old. In a case where benefits are received prior to the beneficiary reaching full retirement age, he or she will receive the retirement benefit and the spousal benefit with a reduction for taking the benefits early.
Waiting longer typically means receiving a larger benefit payout from Social Security. Individuals who have questions about the effect of divorce on Social Security may want to consult an attorney. An attorney with experience in family law might examine the facts of the situation and provide advice regarding the benefits available. A divorce attorney may be able to help the client collect spousal support payments or identify other sources of funds available.