[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series of Social Security-related columns by Ameriflex representatives. Click here for a related article.]

Q. Who is eligible for spousal benefits?

A. The original intention of Social Security was to keep the elderly from being poverty stricken. In the 1930s, generally speaking, married women with children worked in the home and had no earnings history. Social Security provided benefits to these spouses at a rate of half of the working spouses at full retirement age.

This benefit continues today. However, today many couples consist of two high-earning workers. This affords the opportunity to utilize spousal benefits for a time and switch to their own benefit in the future.

The coordination of spousal benefits requires careful examination of many factors unique to individuals, including individual earnings, retirement plans, income needs and the Social Security rules established for spousal benefits.

Q. How do divorced spousal benefits work?

A. A divorced person can receive Social Security benefits from a former spouse’s earnings if the person requesting benefits is age 62 or older, was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years, is currently unmarried and divorced from former spouse for at least two years, and is not eligible for an equal or higher amount of benefits based on their own earnings

The same rule applies as with spousal benefits in which the applicant can receive the divorced spousal benefits now and delay receiving their own benefit until later — building credits.

Readers: Email your Social Security questions to bibi.taylor@ameriflex.com.

— Justin Anderson, CFP, CRC, CLU, is a financial planner and Bibi Taylor, MBA, is the Social Security project coordinator at AmeriFlex, 3700 State St., Suite 310, in Santa Barbara. Call 805.898.0893 for more information. Financial advisors and registered representatives associated with AmeriFlex Financial Services offer securities and advisory services through SagePoint Financial Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance services offered through AmeriFlex Financial Services, which is not affiliated with SagePoint Financial Inc. or registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, MI, MO, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, PR, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI.