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Divorce And Social Security Benefits

When Can An Ex

Collecting Social Security Spousal Benefits when Divorced

If only one party to the divorce is entitled to Social Security benefits, or if they are entitled to significantly greater benefits than the other spouse, then the other spouse might be entitled to a portion of the recipient spouses benefits. Very specific rules govern when a former spouse can receive a share of their exs Social Security benefits, however.

Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Seek Help To Maximize Your Retirement Benefits

Naturally, you probably have plenty of questions about Social Security and what you’re entitled to after a divorce. It’s important to carefully analyze the various options relating to the Social Security payments you could receive as a divorced spouse, including the age you apply for retirement benefits and on whose record you claim. You also need to consider whether you’ll need to pay taxes on the Social Security you collect. And if your ex-spouse continues working while receiving benefits, the excess earnings limitation that applies to them also applies to you and could reduce the amount you receive. There also may be exceptions to the rules that prove important to your individual situation.

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How Much In Benefits Am I Entitled To From My Ex

There are several factors that determine exactly how much of an ex-spouse benefit you will receive, but in general, at full retirement age, you will receive one-half of your former spouses retirement benefit assuming you meet all criteria.

If your former spouse is deceased, you will receive his or her full retirement benefit.

Social Security is gender-neutral.

Benefits criteria apply to ex-husbands as well as ex-wives.

When an ex-spouse collects benefits on a former spouses record, Social Security does not notify the ex-spouse that this is taking place.

Some of the factors that will impact how much you receive include:

  • Have you reached your full retirement age yet? If you take benefits before your full retirement age, the amount you receive will be reduced. The age for full retirement gradually increases from 65 to 67 years old depending on the year you were born.
  • If you are raising children you had with your ex-spouse and he or she passes away, you may receive benefits for their care until they are age 16. After that, they may receive benefits based on your ex-spouses work record until they are 18 or 19, and still in high school full-time. Older children may receive benefits if they are disabled.

If your ex-spouse has remarried and that new spouse is collecting benefits based on his or her work record, it will not reduce the amount of benefits the new spouse or you receive.

Divorced Spouse Social Security: Rule Change

Divorce and Social Security Spousal Benefits

The basic rules for divorced spouses and Social Security say that if an individual was married for at least 10 years and then divorced, they are eligible to collect spousal benefits on the earnings record of their ex-spouse as long as they are at least 62 years of age and currently single. The divorced spouse can collect on the ex-spouses account under these circumstances even if the ex-spouse has remarried.

Furthermore, if the couple has been divorced for at least two continuous years, the ex-spouse can claim benefits based on the other partners earnings even if the latter has yet to file for benefits. This contrasts with the rules for current spouses, who cant collect benefits unless their spouse is already collecting them.

Ex-spouses who were born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, are allowed to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits at their full retirement age and suspend their own benefits until later, a practice known as file and suspend. This allows their own benefit to keep growing by 8% a year up to age 70 when their benefit maxes out. At that pointor sooner, if they wishthey can switch over to their own, higher benefit.

However, under the rule change, divorced spouses who were born on or after Jan. 2, 1954, are deemed to be filing for all available benefits when they apply for Social Security. They will automatically receive whichever benefit is higher, but they can no longer take one type of benefit now and switch to another one later.

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How Is Social Security Impacted If Your Former Spouse Dies

The scenario changes if your ex-spouse has passed away. If you meet specific conditions, you can apply for full retirement age for survivors isn’t necessarily the same age that applies for retirement benefits.

You may be able to apply for survivor benefits if you’ve been collecting spousal benefits or if you’ve been drawing retirement benefits from your own work record. To qualify for surviving divorced spouse benefits, you must meet these conditions:

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
  • You are not married, or you remarried after you turned 60 .
  • You are at least 60 years old .
  • If you’re entitled to benefits on your own work record, the amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s record.
  • If you are caring for a child of your former spouse who is under 16 or is disabled and entitled to benefits, age and length-of-marriage requirements don’t apply.

How Much Will My Spouse Receive

If your spouse qualifies for benefits on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

If they begin receiving benefits:

If your spouse will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security such as government employment, the amount of their Social Security benefits on your record may be reduced.

at any age

Benefits paid to your spouse will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

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What Are The Eligibility Requirements To Receive Social Security From An Ex

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
  • You are at least 62 years old.
  • You are unmarried.
  • Your former spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
  • If you’re entitled to benefits on your own work record, the amount must be less than you would receive based on your former spouse’s record. Social Security generally pays the higher benefit amount.

How Much Social Security Will I Receive

How social security benefits work for divorced couples

It depends. If you qualify for Social Security benefits on your own work record, the government will pay that amount first . You can check your estimated Social Security benefits on the SSA’s website. However, if your ex-spouse’s benefits are higher than yours, your payment will include your own benefits along with an additional amount from your spouse’s benefits.

It’s important to note that if you receive benefits based on an ex-spouse’s work record, your receiving benefits will NOT reduce the benefits paid to your ex-spouse.

The total monthly payment depends on both spouses’ work records and when they file to begin receiving payments. For example, if a spouse is at least 62 years old and applies for benefits, the SSA will reduce the monthly payment using the government’s retirement earnings test. The older you are when you apply, the more the SSA will pay you each month.

However, if your ex-spouse doesn’t apply for benefits until full retirement age, the maximum you can receive is one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount. If you’re unsure whether you should apply now or wait, contact an experienced Social Security attorney near you.

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Benefits For Your Children

When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must:

Benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary school at age 18, benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.

Benefits paid for your child will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

Birthday Is Also A Factor

According to the United States governments social security benefits website, the following also applies: If your ex-spouse was born before January 2, 1954, and has already reached full retirement age, they can choose to receive only the divorced spouses benefit and delay receiving their own retirement benefit until a later date.

If your ex-spouses birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If your ex-spouse files for one benefit, they will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits.

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Requirements For Spousal Benefits After Divorce

If your marriage lasted less than ten years, then you are not entitled to survivor or retirement benefits

In order to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits on an ex-spouses work record, you need to have been legally married for at least ten years. If you are relying on your ex-spouses account, you need to be currently unmarried. It is permissible to have had another spouse since you got divorced, but that subsequent marriage needs to have ended in death or divorce in order for you to be eligible to use your previous ex-spouses benefits. It does not matter whether they have remarried or not.

The Social Security Administration also requires the person trying to collect benefits be at least 62 years of age. Finally, the benefit that you would receive based on your own work history needs to be less than the benefits that you will receive under your ex-spouses record. Of course, your ex-spouse needs to be eligible for benefits in the first place as well, or else there are no benefits to draw from.

You May Qualify For Benefits From A Previous Marriage

Social Security And Divorce: What Every Woman Should Know

by Stan Hinden, AARP

If you’re divorced, you may still qualify for Social Security benefits from your former spouse.

En español | Q: My marriage ended with a court decree 10 years ago. I’m told that as a divorced woman, I might qualify for Social Security benefits on the work record of my ex-spouse. Is that true?

A: Yes, it’s true you might. Social Security operates with a philosophy that a divorced person may deserve a personal benefit, having been the long-term partner and helpmate of a member of the workforce. The benefit is similar, in fact, to the spousal benefit that is available to a person who is still married.

Basically, there are two sets of rules that determine whether you qualify. The first applies if your ex-spouse is living, and the second applies if he’s deceased. Either way, it won’t surprise you to learn that the rules are complicated, and you’ll need to take some time getting familiar with them.

And before we go further, keep in mind that Social Security is gender neutral. Though many of its rules date to an era of one-income households with the man working and the woman staying home and raising children everything you’ll read here concerning a divorced woman would apply equally to a divorced man.

Also, any benefits that you as a divorced spouse might receive would have no effect on the amount of benefits your ex-spouse gets.

Q: My former spouse is still living. What are the basics for that set of rules?

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer

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How Do I Apply For An Ex

Marriage can affect how you do your taxes, make money and plan for retirement. If your marriage ends, its important to know the rules regarding divorce and Social Security. Whos eligible for what benefits, how much can you collect and what about if theres another marriage? These are all things to consider after a divorce as you look towards retirement to determine what Social Security benefits youre eligible for. Social Security is just one part of retirement planning, and you may want to consider working with a financial advisor to create a full financial plan.

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Divorced Spouse Benefits?

An important thing to know about divorce and Social Security is that a divorce doesnt end Social Security eligibility for the ex-spouse. If youve devoted a long time to a person, you can still receive Social Security benefits on their work record if certain criteria are met.

Here are the governments requirements for filing for Social Security on your ex-spouses work record:

  • Youre at least 62 years old and not currently married.

  • Youre divorced from someone who is entitled to Social Security benefits.

  • You were married to that person for at least 10 years before the divorce was finalized.

  • Youre not entitled to higher retirement or disability benefits.

If you file for benefits at full retirement age, you will receive half of your ex-spouses retirement amount or disability benefit. If you decide to file earlier, your benefit will be reduced.

Social Security Is Not Divided Like Other Retirement Funds

When a couple gets divorced, pensions and retirement accounts are generally split in a procedure known as equitable distribution or asset division. Examples of retirement funds that may be divided and distributed during a divorce include pensions, individual retirement accounts , 401 accounts and 403 accounts, among others. The final divorce decree or separation agreement typically sets out how the money in these retirement vehicles will be divided between the divorcing spouses.

Social Security retirement benefits are different. There is no procedure for including Social Security payments in the division of assets during a divorce. However, the court may take into account the parties Social Security benefits when considering other matters related to the divorce.

Even though Social Security benefits are not included with other retirement funds when dividing assets in a divorce, that does not mean divorce has no effect on the size of Social Security payments a divorced spouse may receive. In fact, there are certain circumstances in which you may be able to receive a larger Social Security check based on your ex-spouses earning record.

Also Check: Divorce Statistics 2021 By Age

How Much Will Your Divorced Spouse Receive

If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years.

If your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

If your ex-spouse was born before January 2, 1954, and has already reached full retirement age, they can choose to receive only the divorced spouses benefit and delay receiving their own retirement benefit until a later date.

If your ex-spouses birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If your ex-spouse files for one benefit, they will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits.

General Divorce And Social Security Provisions

How Social Security Works for Divorced Spouses

First of all, the spouse seeking benefits must be at least 62 years old, must have been married to their ex for at least 10 years, must now be unmarried, and must not be eligible for a higher Social Security benefit based on their work record. If those factors are all true, then that spouse could be eligible to receive a portion of their exs social security benefits.

To collect, however, additional factors must be in place. The ex must also be at least 62 years old and must be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. They do not have to be actually receiving the benefits yet, but they must be eligible. There are other complications and potential routes to collection based on specific circumstances. For example, if the ex-spouse is deceased, and the divorced spouse does not remarry before age 60, they might be able to collect benefits as a former spouse. Talk to your divorce attorney about your Social Security benefits and eligibility to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Recommended Reading: What Does The Bible Say About Separation And Divorce

Do Widows Who Remarry And Divorce Get Social Security Benefits

After age 60, the widow receives the full survivor’s benefits even if remarried. A widow who remarries before age 60 is not entitled to their late spouse’s Social Security benefits however, if that widow marries and then divorces the latter spouse, the widow may become eligible for survivor benefits from the deceased spouse.

Can You Stop Your Ex From Using Your Social Security Record

No. You don’t have any say on whether your ex uses your earnings history to get benefits. Social Security doesn’t need your consent, nor will you be notified if they’re using your record for benefits.

Social Security’s rules for divorced spouses exist because both people often contribute economically in a marriage, even if one spouse outearns the others. For example, ex-spouse benefits prevent homemakers and stay-at-home parents from being left with no retirement benefits should the marriage end.

The bottom line, though, is that you really shouldn’t care about your ex’s Social Security. Your ex’s Social Security strategy has no effect on you, your family, or your money in any way. Focus instead on your own retirement planning and investing as much as possible.

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