Divorce

How does Divorce and Social Security Work?

How does Divorce change my Social Security

We get a lot of questions regarding Divorce and Social Security. How it works, and who qualifies for what? Filing for Social Security involves a dizzying array of choices and decisions. When should you claim benefits? What’s the best way to maximize your income? Selecting the right options isn’t easy for anyone, and for those who are divorced it can be even harder. If you’re confused by the myriad of rules and regulations around filing for Social Security as a divorced individual, keep these guidelines in mind:

If you were married over 10 years, you can claim spousal benefits. This is true as long as you meet the following conditions:

  • You’ve been divorced for at least two years at the time you file.
  • You have not remarried.
  • You have reached the age of 62 (or older).
  • Your spouse is qualified by work history and citizenship to claim Social Security retirement/disability benefits.

Your spousal benefit will be equal to one half of the full retirement amount your ex-spouse is qualified to receive, assuming you file at your full retirement age. In many cases, this could be more than the amount you would receive based on your own work history – if you were out of the work force caring for children, for example. If your own work record is higher than you will receive your own benefit. In either case if you file at age 62 this could reduce your benefit as much as 30% for the rest of your retirement which can cost you thousands of retirement dollars.

You can receive the full amount of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit if he or she passes away. If your ex-spouse is deceased you can receive benefits as a widow or widower instead of spousal benefits. You qualify for the full amount of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit, just as you would if you had still been married at the time of death. The rules are similar to those for spousal benefits:

  1. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.
  2. You must have attained your full retirement age (your benefit will be less if you file early).
  3. You must not have remarried before age 60. A marriage at or after the age of 60 will not affect your ability to qualify for this type of benefit.

In both types of Social Security benefits, it makes no difference whether your spouse has remarried one or more times. These benefits are yours if you qualify based on your age and marital status, even if there is a current spouse or widow who also collects benefits.

Still confused? Please contact our office for a consultation. We’ll help you clarify your options and find your best path forward. Social Security Benefit Planners 877-270-SSBP (7727) info@socialsecuritybp.com

Social Security Myth #3: Divorce Always Costs You!

MYTH: If you’re divorced, your only option is to file for Social Security based on your own work record.

Luckily for many divorcees, this isn’t the case at all. If you were married for over ten years, you can still file for benefits as if you were married.  This means that as in Myth #2, you can receive up to half the amount of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit.

If you do not remarry and your ex precedes you in death, the Social Security Administration considers you to be widowed. As a widow or widower, you are eligible to receive the full benefit that your ex-spouse earned – just as if you had still been married at the time of his or her death.

Some divorcees worry that collecting the benefits to which they are entitled will cause resentment, either in the ex-spouse or his or her subsequent spouse (or spouses). The common assumption is that if one ex-spouse is receiving benefits, that will negatively impact the amount other current or previous spouses can receive, or even prevent them from receiving benefits at all.

There’s nothing to worry about, because everyone who can collect Social Security benefits based on a previous or current marriage to someone who is vested into the system does so independently. Even if your ex-spouse married several other people after you divorced, it doesn’t matter. If each marriage lasted over ten years, all the previous spouses – and the current one as well – will be able to collect the full amount of spousal or widower’s benefits.

If the marriage didn’t last for ten years, however, there is no benefit for an ex-spouse. Here is to your fantastic retirement!

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.