Divorce and Social Security: What You Should Know

In October 16, 2014

Divorce is difficult – sometimes it causes heartache, sometimes it can be a blessing, and sometimes  it can do both. In any case, divorce can cause some changes on how you handle your finances—especially in terms of how Social Security is handled. If you are a divorcee and want to know what to expect from social security, you may find the following facts from the Social Security website useful.

  • If your marriage lasted 10 years or more, you are eligible to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if he/she has remarried) if:
    • You are currently unmarried and are age 62 or older
    • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, AND
    • The benefit you are entitled to received (based on your own work) is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work
  • Assuming you qualify and you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age, your benefits as a divorced spouse equal one-half of your ex-spouse’s retirement or disability amount.
  • If your marriage was less than 10 years long, you will not be eligible for your ex-spouse’s social security benefits.
  • If you have remarried, you may still be able to claim benefits under your first spouse only if your later marriage has ended (whether by death, divorce or annulment). This must be verified by an official through your local Social Security office.
  • If you have reached full retirement age and are eligible for both your retirement benefit as well as a former spouse’s benefit, you’ll have the option of choosing whether you want to claim your own benefits or those of your former spouse.
  • If you continue working while collecting your former spouse’s benefits, there will be earning limits in place. The Social Security office can better explain these numbers to you and help you understand why this is the case.
  • Even if your former spouse has not claimed benefits, but can qualify for them, you may be able to receive benefits on the ex-spouse’s record if you have been divorced for at least two years and file all the appropriate paperwork with the Social Security office.
  • When you file to receive these benefits, there a number of things you must prove. You may have to show divorce decrees (or other official divorce documents), proof that you are currently unmarried, information about your own income, and other facts that will help the Social Security Administration determine if you are eligible to receive these benefits.

While this information is current as of 2014 and may be accurate in many cases, every person’s situation is a little bit different. That’s why it is important to make an appointment with your local Social Security office so you can sit down and talk about the options that are available in your situation. Additionally, you can check out the information on the Social Security Administration website for the most current and accurate information available.

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