Monday, August 18, 2008

Divorced Wife Possible Extra Benefits

Question: My ex husband, Earl G. M., age 76, received approx $2,000 a month after Medicare..........and, I, Evelyn C. M. am receiving $600 a month. I am 73 years old and the $600 is my only income. Would it be possible for me to receive more from Social Security?

Answer: Well Evelyn, it depends on just what kind of benefits you are receiving. You don't give enough information. Are you receiving the $600 on your own earnings record or as a wife/ex-wife? If you are receiving as a wife or ex-wife , are you also collecting on your own account? (Probably). If the $600 benefit is based on your ex-husband's account - a divorced wife's benefit - then that would most likely be all you can collect for social security benefits.

But if you are collecting only on your own account, you may be eligible for some extra money on your ex's account too. It depends on both your and his primary insurance amounts (PIA). This is the amount before any age reduction. A wife's benefit (and an ex-wife's) is determined by subtracting the wife's own primary insurance amount from one-half of the primary insurance amount of the husband. So if your ex-husband's PIA is $2,000, one-half is $1,000. If your PIA is $600, you can collect the additional $400 difference as an ex-wife. But, you must have been married at least 10 years.

I hope this helps you. If you think you may be eligible, you should apply without any further delay. You could lose some benefits because in your case an application cannot be retroactive for any more than 6 months, so get going! If you can't get to the SS office right away, send a letter telling them you want to claim ex-wife's benefits. This will protect your filing date.

One other avenue you may explore if you have limited assets and little income, is Supplemental Security Income payments, which are also handled by SSA. These are designed for people over 65 (as well as for the blind and disabled) in financial need. Eligibility depends on your assets (not counting your home), your income and your living arrangements. If your only income is the $600 you should question SS about you eligibility. Some states add a supplement to these federal payments. And if you are eligible for SSI you may also receive Medicaid, which pays for some things not covered by Medicare.

I wish you all the best.