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.

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