View Full Version : How do I find my ex-husbandís Social Security number?

12-12-2003, 09:09 AM
I am rapidly approaching my 62nd birthday and want to examine my options with the Social Security folks. I know my ex has always contributed more to the fund than I have and I should be able to claim on his SS, but I doní know his number. We have been divorced since 1986, I have never remarried (he did) and yes, he is still living but we donít communicate and I want to leave our son out of this if possible. I have all the other basic information Ė Marriage license, divorce decree, I know when and where he was born, parents and grandparents names, dates an places of birth and death. Can any Dopers help/advise?

12-12-2003, 09:24 AM
If you have copies of any any pre-86 tax forms they will have his ss#. Application for a marriage lisc may also require this info.. If all else fails there are net detective services that will pull his SS# for a fee like this >

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ACQUISITIONó$49 (http://www.gum-shoes.com/productdetails.php?ID=5001&Keyword=find)

I have never have used this service, nor do I make any claims for it, so use at your own risk.

12-12-2003, 09:28 AM
He was very careful to remove all tax returns and other financial data when he moved out. I'm not ready yet to pay someone for something I should be able to find myself.

12-12-2003, 09:39 AM
I would think that your divorce lawyer would probably have your ex's SSN somewhere in his or her files... it is probably important that they have that info when drawing up a property settlement...

12-12-2003, 09:57 AM
You should contact your lawyer rather than trying to find some sneaky way to get his SSN.

12-12-2003, 10:06 AM
I have contacted my lawyer. He no longer has those records. (It was 1986!) I have examined the entire divorce decree and there is no mention anywhere of a SSN. I still have documentatin from the sale of our home and no SSN there either.

I am not trying to do anything sneaky.

12-12-2003, 12:13 PM
I think you should contact the Social Security Admin first- I think you may be misunderstanding how "survivor" benefits work.

In other words, I think your need for his SSN is moot.

12-12-2003, 12:19 PM
Was there a child support order? His number may be listed there.

12-12-2003, 01:46 PM
Do you have *any* documents from the marriage? Car registration or insurance, accident reports, credit reports - joint or individual, mortgages/deeds, sales contracts, extended warranties, account info, divorce decree, cancelled checks, etc? The SSN (and driver's license number) was horribly overused as ID in the 80s. I realize that you may not have kept most of those, but that's where I'd look.

If it were in the past 10 years, I'd suggest checking your current credit report (which you should check annually anyway). A spouse's SSN is often embedded in the long numbers listed in entries for joint accounts (in the full form, not the summary) You'd notice a common sequence

12-12-2003, 02:02 PM
Well here's a stupid question.

Wouldn't any potential benefits that you could recieve on his SSN have been negotiated as part of the divorce settlement? Or is that not how Social Security works? (I have no idea.)

12-12-2003, 02:09 PM
I don't think that you get to claim on your ex's SS benefits, either.
You should definately check that out, first.

12-12-2003, 02:20 PM
None of the documents I have from that time, including the Divorce Decree, have the SSN. My understanding of SS is that since I have not remarried, and because of the length of the marriage, (23 years) I can claim benefits on his earnings, which have been much higher than mine. I havenít actually contacted the SS Admin. yet, assuming I will need proper documentation first. The last time I had any dealing with them was to help my father receive benefits, and I stood in line four hours before I was helped. I want to be prepared before going through that again.

12-12-2003, 03:15 PM
Palikia is correct that she qualifies. Straight from the SSA website:

If you are divorced after at least 10 years of marriage, you can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse's Social Security record if you are at least age 62 and if your former spouse is entitled to or receiving benefits.

I would call the SSA (rather than wait in line for hours) and see if you need the SS# or if they are able to locate it for you. I'm sure they're used to dealing with it. I know they can search their records by name in the case of a deceased spouse.

12-12-2003, 03:31 PM
You may be able to request a previously filed tax return from the IRS, and that should have the information on it:


It does appear you are eligible for benefits from your ex-husband:

If you are divorced (even if you have remarried), your ex-spouse may qualify for benefits on your record if you are 62 or older. In some situations, he or she may get benefits even if you're not receiving them yet. (If your spouse will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, his or her Social Security benefit on your record may be affected. See further information here.)

To qualify on your record, your ex-spouse must:

have been married to you for at least 10 years;
be at least 62 years old;
be unmarried; and
not be eligible for an equal or higher benefit on his or her own Social Security record, or on someone else's Social Security record.
If your former spouse continues to work while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to him or her as apply to you. If your ex-spouse is eligible for benefits this year and is also working, you can use our earnings test calculator to see how those earnings would affect those benefit payments.

The amount of benefits your divorced spouse gets has no effect on the amount of benefits you or your current spouse may receive.


12-12-2003, 04:30 PM
I did as aktep and ASD suggested and called the number on the SSA website. As I suspected, they would not give me my exís SSN, but did set up an appointment for a telephone interview next week since there is no SSA office in my city. That looks like a good start.

Thanks for your help.

12-12-2003, 06:05 PM
I can't help, sorry. I'm just glad I was divorced after nine years instead of ten.

12-12-2003, 08:59 PM
For the record, here's the complete 20 CFR 404.336 (http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-0336.htm)

12-12-2003, 09:39 PM
Well, I opened this thread thinking I'd be able to help (I work for SSA) but it looks like you've already gotten all the info you need. Just to confirm, SSA was probably able to determine your ex's SSN using his name and date of birth, as they would need it to set up the appointment. They wouldn't give you his SSN until they can verify that you are entitled to benefits on his account, as this would be a violation of the Privacy Act. Once they confirm that you qualify, they'll be able to give you the number.

Darth Nader
12-12-2003, 10:33 PM
Or, I could just send him an email...


12-12-2003, 11:16 PM
This one interests me too.

My ex-wife (married for 30 years) and I are both approaching 62. We get along fine.

Anyway---I will receive a little over $900 on my SS. She will receive a little over $500 on hers. Can she get the same as me on my benefits? That would help her a lot and no skin off my teeth.

I tried to look it up on the SS web site, but it was confusing---something about hers had to be less than 1/2 of mine for her to qualify --(or maybe I was reading it wrong)

---Hope that guy who works for SS is still checking these posts---

12-13-2003, 10:54 AM
All Social Security benefits are based on the primary number holder's Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is calculated by applying a complicated formula to your entire work history. I'm assuming that the figures you quoted are based on earnings and benefit statements that you and your ex-wife received, disponibilite. These statements should have shown the amount you will be due at ages 62, 65 (or your "full retirement age") and 70. The amount you would receive at your full retirement age is also your PIA; the amount at age 62 is reduced for age and the amount at age 70 is increased for "delayed retirement credits." Spouse benefits are based on one-half of the number holder's PIA, reduced for age if necessary; delayed retirement credits are not given to spouses. If your ex-wife's PIA is greater than one-half of your PIA, then no spouse's benefit is payable on your record. When you or her apply for benefits, the office handling your applications will be able to verify the exact amounts due each of you.

In the event of your death, she is entitled to a survivor benefit which is based on the benefit you are receiving (or entitled to) at that time, assuming she is not currently married.

Spouse and survivor benefits for current and former spouses are each calculated as if the other does not exist, so if you were to remarry that would not affect your ex-wife's eligibilty or benefit amount.

Hope this helps.

12-13-2003, 08:50 PM
OK--- I think I got it.

It was pretty much what I expected and have encountered as far as I understood reading the SS rules.-------

---- If my ex-wife's benefits on her own is more than half what I get, then she is pretty much screwed as far as tapping into my SS. And so she might as well not confuse things and just use her own benefits since that is all she will get anyway.

Isn't that so. N'est-ce pas? Nicht wahr?

Just curious though---------suppose her personal benefit was just slightly under the 50% margin, (and not as in her case just slightly over) would she be able to get the same as my full benefit? Or is it pro-rated in some way?

12-14-2003, 01:05 AM
I don't work at SS, Disponibilite, but my understanding is that she gets whichever amount is higher; hers or the benefit based on your record.

Lurkmeister, can I ask you a question? I'm retired and have to bring an "award letter" for my pension. I'm retired from federal service and I don't have this. Do you know what SS is looking for? (thanks Palikia)

12-14-2003, 04:00 PM
disponibilite - If someone is eligible for both retirement and a higher spouse's benefits, the spouse's benefit is adjusted (reduced) by the amount of the retirement benefit. There is an advantage of being eligible for both spouse's and retirement benefits if you are under 65; the age reduction applied to retirement benefits is a smaller percentage than that applied to spouse's benefits, and if you're eligible for both the age reduction of the spouse's benefit is applied to the difference between the unreduced benefit. This results in a higher combined reduced benefit being payable than just the reduced spouse's benefit.

Yes, SSA rate calculations are a complex PITA; that's why I get the Big Bucks :)

suezeekay - What SSA needs is verification of the amount of your federal pension, the date you were first eligible for the pension, the effective date of the pension, and whether the pension was based on employment not subject to Social Security tax (FICA) withholding. It's possible that the amount of your SSA benefit will need to be adjusted if you are receiving a pension from work that was not subject to FICA withholding, such as CSRS instead of FERS.

Gee, maybe I should start an "Ask the SSA Benefits Expert" thread. Although I'd better check my "Standards of Conduct" book first - there may be some regulation against it. Don't want to risk my own pension.

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