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Social Security and your ex-spouse

| Oct 16, 2020 | Divorce |

Ending a marriage has several consequences. But divorce may have one positive aspect for your Social Security benefits. You can receive more benefits based on your former spouse’s work record.

General benefits

You can claim up to 50 percent of your former spouse’s primary insurance account. This is the amount of benefits your former spouse may receive after reaching full retirement age between 66 and 67.

If your former spouse died, you may be eligible for survivor benefits of up to 100 percent. The rules, however, are different for divorced spouses.

You may use your former spouse’s record to collect benefits even if that spouse is not yet receiving benefits. Your benefits are not affected if your former spouse waits or delays their benefits claim.

Your marriage had to last at least two years and you had to be divorced for at least two consecutive years if you want to rely on your former spouse’s record. When the divorce occurred does not matter.

Single benefits

You cannot seek benefits under both of your records. You may receive the higher benefit of 100 percent of your retirement benefit or 50 percent of your former spouse’s benefit.

If your benefit is less than 50 percent of your former spouse’s benefit, Social Security will provide benefits based upon your work record and then make up the difference with your former spouse’s record.

Remarriage

You may not remarry and claim benefits on your ex-spouse who is still alive. However, you can still claim benefits based upon the record of a former spouse who remarries if you remain single.

If your former spouse remarried several times, these other former spouses may also claim benefits based upon your ex-spouse’s work record. You may only claim on your most recent former spouse’s record.

Notify the SSA if you remarry so your benefits may be terminated unless you are remarrying your former spouse. You will be eligible to rely on your new spouse’s history if you were married for at least one year.

Age

If you claim benefits from a former spouse, you both must be at least 62. Your former spouse must have 10 years of work which equals 40 work credits.

If you claim benefits at 62, however, you will lower your monthly benefit regardless of the earnings it is based on. Waiting until full retirement age may increase your benefits under different situations.

Attorneys can provide options on your divorce that help provide financial security. They can also seek a fair and reasonable decree.