How Social Security Benefits And Divorce Go Along

Food For Thought:  Our topic of discussion is later life divorce and as a result how does legal separation will impact your social security benefits. Social security benefits generally are seldom discusses among the spouses and hence they do not understand how it will impact their lives. Especially as they move on to retirement.  Before going into the details of how divorce impacts your social security benefits I will just answer the most basic question which is generally asked through an example below.

Question: Case Study On A Separating Couple aged: Women is 60 years old and is currently on disability. Man is 65 years old and is still working. If this couple is separating as a result of divorce, can the lady benefit out of his ex-spouse social security benefits?

Answer: Although a couple has decided to separate legally, the separating spouse (lower earner) can receive social security benefits from her ex-husbands account under following conditions:

  • The couple should have been married for at least 10 years before separation.
  • The spouse receiving benefit should be 62 years of age, and
  • Currently unmarried and not entitled to higher benefit through their own account. Your own benefit should be less than what you will receive from your ex-spouse’s account.

If the spouse receiving benefits remarries then she will lose all the entitled benefits.


Facts On Social Security Benefits And Divorce

  • If both individuals are working at the time of divorce, the lower earner will receive benefits from the higher earners account.
  • If the ex-spouse hasn’t applied for his/her benefits, you are still eligible for social security benefits from his/her account if you have been divorced for at least 2 years.
  • Claiming benefits on your ex-spouse’s account will in no way affect his/her social security pension or any other spousal or children benefit associated with them.
  • Divorced spousal benefit can be increased by waiting until full retirement age. To read more on how to maximize your social security benefits. If you choose to wait to receive the benefits then delayed retirements are added to you account.
  • If you have never worked in your life, you are still eligible to receive spousal benefits after divorce and your ex-spouse can still collect his/her benefits.
  • If your ex-spouse is no more, you can still qualify to receive benefits from his/her account if your marriage lasted for 10 years. If you had not been married for 10 years then you may qualify under the below mentioned conditions:You are the caring guardian of your ex-spouse’s children or legally adopted children.
    His/her children are under the age of 16 or disabled.
    The children is entitled to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record.
  • Once you start receiving after divorce spousal benefits and you are a working professional under the age of 66 then your earnings can be affected. You can use this calculator which will show you any reductions which me be applicable.
  • If your ex-spouse dies while you are receiving benefits then benefits will cease to be given unless as mentioned in points above. On the other hand you will be eligible for survivor or widower benefits based on their own criteria.
  • You can call social security helpline number on 1-800-772-1213 for any further clarification

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