Social Security Considerations of Divorce

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), 96% of American workers are covered under Social Security. If you’re one of the many who are eligible to collect Social Security benefits in retirement, it’s important to understand how the system works.

If you’ve been married, spousal benefits can be a vital portion of Social Security. Even if you weren’t a busy bee, hard at work, or had low earnings you can still receive up to half of your spouse’s Social Security benefits. If you’re marriage ended in divorce, you don’t lose that benefit. It’s important to know your rights even after a marriage has ended. You could be missing out on Social Security benefits without becoming educated.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind if you’re divorced and looking at your Social Security benefits:

1 . You’re Still Entitled to Your Spousal Benefits if Certain Conditions Are Met

Did your marriage last 10 years before you and your former spouse cut ties? If a marriage lasted at least 10 years, you’re in the clear. You can still collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, even if he or she has remarried. However, keep in mind the following conditions must be met:

  • You’re unmarried

  • Your age is 62 or older

  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits (retirement or disability)

  • Your benefit is less than your spouse’s benefit

2. Changes to Your Eligibility for Spousal Benefits if You Remarry

If you decide to remarry, you’re typically forfeiting your rights to collect Social Security on your ex-spouse’s record. This is valid, but you might be able to collect your new spouse’s benefit if you’re at least 62 years of age and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits.

3. If You Qualify for Retirement Benefits on Your Own Record, the SSA Pays Your Benefits First

If you meet the earnings requirements to qualify for Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will always pay your benefits first. This always means you’re still entitled to your ex-spouse’s benefits if his or her earnings are higher, and other conditions stated previously are met. If this is your scenario, you’ll receive an additional benefit payment on your ex-spouse’s record. The combination of benefits is equal to the highest amount you’re eligible to collect.

For more information about Social Security benefits after divorce, read the full article, “Social Security After Divorce,” by Catherine Schnaubelt at Forbes now. Make sure your Social Security benefits are safe by contacting our firm today!


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