Over the years, I have helped many of my clients, friends and acquaintances receive social security benefits from a divorced spouse they had no idea they were entitled to (this applies to a present spouse as well). Here is what you need to know–that social security isn’t going to necessarily tell you—unless you ask.

If you were married for 10 years or longer, you have a choice of receiving benefits under your own work record, or one-half the benefit under the work record of your former spouse, even if your former spouse has remarried. The benefit under your former spouse’s work record may be higher than your own.

If you receive benefits under your former spouse’s work record, it has no effect on the benefits your former spouse or his/her new spouse receives.

If you were born before January 2, 1954 and have already reached your full social security retirement age, you can receive benefits under your ex-spouse’s record, while delaying and growing your own social security benefit. You can then switch over to your own benefit at a much higher amount later on.

If your former spouse is deceased, you may be entitled to social security survivor benefits.

What do you have to lose? Social security benefits are a substantial retirement benefit. You (and your former spouse) have undoubtedly paid significant social security taxes over the years. Get what your entitled to. Make an appointment without delay and find out your rights. Ask questions. You have a right to know.