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Transferring social security entitlements as part of divorce settlement

Arvada, CO |


My wife is divorcing and has no social security entitlements as she has not worked enough hours. My question is this. Is it possible to legally transfer all my social security entitlements to her so she could claim SSDI and also apply for medicare, just in the same way I could do so if I had a disabling accident now, even though I have not reached retirement age.

When retirement age is reached how is social security divided? Does each party get the full amount?, meaning the Govt would pay twice as much, or is it divided 50/50. I expect it is the latter, but I need to be sure about this. Also, if it is the former, when retirement age is reached, could I make a legal agreement now to give her my half then, in exchange for a better settlement now, even though it is not legally transferable as such?

Attorney Answers 2


Social Security rights are personal to the worker and not in any way "transferable." There is no fund of money in existence that is identified to a worker (as many people mistakenly believe). An ex-spouse who was married to a worker for 10 years or more will have the right to claim on the account of the worker upon reaching a certain age, and younger if disabled. Accurate and complete information about the rights of spouses and ex-spouses is available at

Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.

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Social Security benefits are statutory and not transferable. Following are the rules associated with spousal benefits.

A person can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if he or she:

Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years;
Is at least age 62 years old;
Is unmarried; and
Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

In addition, the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own retirement or disability benefit. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit if he or she meets the eligibility requirements above and has been divorced from the former spouse for at least two years.

Generally, SS cannot pay benefits if the divorced spouse remarries someone other than the former spouse, unless the latter marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment), or the marriage is to a person entitled to certain types of Social Security auxiliary or survivor's benefits.
A person can receive benefits as a surviving divorced spouse on the Social Security record of a former spouse who died fully insured, if he or she:

Is at least age 60, or age 50 and disabled;
Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years; and
Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

If the surviving divorced spouse age 60 or over applying for benefits remarried after age 60, or after age 50 and at the time of remarriage was entitled to disability benefits, we disregard the marriage. If a person is already entitled to benefits as an aged or disabled surviving divorced spouse and remarries, benefits continue regardless of the person's age at the time of remarriage.

The benefits paid to a divorced spouse or a surviving divorced spouse will not affect the benefit amount paid to other family members who receive benefits on the same record.

If you would like to receive an estimate of benefits you may receive as a divorced spouse or a surviving divorced spouse, you may contact SS at our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.

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