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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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Maybe I should say mature, mid-life or baby-boomer ex-wives? Nope. I am an older ex-wife myself, so I’ll stick with older—as in wiser.

Although my ex-husband did not have an IRA, or any other type of retirement plan for that matter, I was stressed about my future when we divorced. I had always been a stay-at-home mom, so at age 50 I was relatively sure I didn’t have time to put together a retirement package that would see me through my golden years. Since I hadn’t worked, the only Social Security that I had on my account was based on the pittance I had made as a teenager. I had visions of myself in a tiny apartment with no heat, eating cat food casserole.

It wasn’t a pleasant fantasy.

To be perfectly fair, I don’t think my kids would have stood by and watched while I lived like that. But your mind plays strange tricks on you when you're contemplating a drastic change in your future, right?

You Are Entitled to His Social Security Benefits

I now know that an ex-wife is entitled to her ex’s Social Security benefits if they were married for at least ten years before the divorce became final—and as long as she hasn’t remarried.

It’s true.

Once you are 62 years old, you can apply for benefits based on your ex’s lifetime earnings, not just what he made while you were married. It doesn’t matter if he has retired or not, or if he is collecting social security or not. It doesn’t even matter if he has a new wife who is collecting social security on his account!

If you were married ten years or more, you are entitled to it. If you remarry, and then that marriage ends, you can still claim benefits under your ex-husband’s Social Security. In fact, if you are married to two men for ten years each, you can choose which one to collect Social Security under. Hint: Go for the higher amount!

Be Careful

Everything in life comes with a cautionary note, you should know that by now. 

  • Yes, you can absolutely collect his Social Security benefits—you’ll get half. 
  • You can’t collect both his benefits and yours, though, so you’ll want to wait and see what the higher amount is. 
  • You can’t collect his Social Security if he hasn’t started collecting it—unless you’ve been divorced for at least two years.

Later Is Better

If you wait to claim his Social Security benefits until full retirement age (65), then you can collect on his benefits while still allowing yours to grow. When you turn seventy, you can start collecting yours as well. This will give you extra time to create a higher monthly income during your retirement.

Obviously, it’s important to read the Social Security site very carefully and talk to a professional financial counselor about any details you don’t understand. 

A New Spouse

As long as you’ve been married to your new spouse for a year or more, you can choose to collect on his benefits instead of your ex-husband’s benefits. But you’ll need to wait until he begins collecting his Social Security to do so. 

If your new spouse has less in Social Security than your ex, you can choose to collect from your ex’s account—but you can’t do both.

Do Your Own Planning

Don’t get me wrong. This is not carte blanche to ignore your own finances and future financial health! It is more important than ever to begin your own savings plan, IRA, or retirement fund. Social Security benefits are shaky, and no one has ever gotten rich off of them!

Many banks have financial counselors that will help you with retirement planning at no cost to you. It’s a good idea to see where you are and what you can do to be more prepared.

You might not have time to create a small fortune for retirement, but if you start today, you’ll still be better off than if you did nothing, right?

Talk to Others

Finances can be hard to figure out, especially when you haven’t been the primary one handling the finances for a long time. It may not be the case for younger women, but women of my generation were often taught to leave financial matters up to their husbands. This old-fashioned habit will cause huge problems if you ever are widowed or get a divorce!

You aren’t the only one dealing with financial questions. Join First Wives World and get advice, affirmation, and encouragement from women who have been there.

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : TheArches

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9 comments

  • Comment Link Susie Blagen Sunday, 27 November 2016 00:44 posted by Susie Blagen

    Hello,
    I was married for 6 yrs., but legally separated for 16 yrs.
    We finally divorced last tr. and I signed a waiver stated that I would not claim his retirement or his social security. My question is, can I still claim his SSI when I am of age, or file for widows benifits if he passes before me?
    Thank you for your time and knoweledge,
    Susie.

  • Comment Link Dampnurse Sunday, 30 October 2016 04:57 posted by Dampnurse

    Stbx is withdrawing from 401k to pay for divorce. What does that mean for me since I've been a stay at home mom for long?

  • Comment Link Veta Tuesday, 03 May 2016 14:54 posted by Veta

    does it mean that the ex husband will then receive only another half of his social security benefits? Or is it that the ex husband won't "feel" the fact that his ex wife drew on his ssb?

  • Comment Link BK Phillips Friday, 15 April 2016 15:45 posted by BK Phillips

    I took my SS at 62, a piddling amt, since I'd been a stay-at-home mom since marriage. We really needed the extra $400 a month. I was told at the time that when my ex-husband started withdrawing his SS that I could claim half that amount, considerably more than my own. Now I learn that it's not true. After 55 yrs of marriage, we divorced, I was an emotional mess.. at my wits end. We both used the same lawyer, (I know) and I stupidly agreed to $600 alimony for 5 years. I guess that I thought that I'd find a job... That five years is up in ten more monthly payments, and my sole income will be the $580. I am 79 years old. If ever someone needed a review of a settlement agreement, it's me. But I don't know if I have a leg to stand on. I live in FL now, but it was a NY decree.

  • Comment Link Ksutherlun Thursday, 28 January 2016 12:15 posted by Ksutherlun

    My ex-husband died two months ago I am beat I'm going to be collecting his spousal support and my going to get the money taken out of it the taxes taken out of it when at the end of the year are delight or do I get taxes taken out at all

  • Comment Link AB Sunday, 01 November 2015 19:12 posted by AB

    You cannot collect on ex's social security if he is younger and not yet eligible, no matter your age. The statement about waiting 2 years and collecting on his even if he isn't collecting does not refer to this situation - that refers to if he is eligible and chooses not to collect.

  • Comment Link Maria Monday, 16 March 2015 14:43 posted by Maria

    I was married for 36 years. I filed for divorce 2000
    In Florida. I was awarded 5500.00 a month. Also got half of his retirement medical and house. I thought I was very lucky. My ex was lost everything because of ponzu squim. He left the country. Was arrested in Brazil and now is in prison in Miami Florida. I have not received alimony for ten years. I have lost everything.
    My question is can I get part of his Social Security or
    Disability check. I am 69 years old he is 73.
    What can I do?

  • Comment Link Kathy Wilkins Saturday, 14 March 2015 19:38 posted by Kathy Wilkins

    My mom was able to draw off my dads SS...she was his first wife and was told she could get hers plus so much of his. While answering questions they were putting info in computer...later in the conversation she asked about her medicaid and was told she would lose that..in which she said I don't want to draw his then...the person informed her she had to take it because they had entered info into computer. She is now worse off cause her low income apartment's rent has jumped up...she has lost her medicaid and will lose any food stamps...and whatever medicaid was paying for her. Is there anything she can do?

  • Comment Link brainy2010 Thursday, 18 December 2014 21:51 posted by brainy2010

    33% if you draw off their earnings at the age of 62