Divorce & Your Social Security Benefits

Unfortunately, half of all marriages end in divorce. So, there is a good chance this article may be relevant for someone you know. After a divorce, you can claim retirement benefits based on your own earnings record (if you have been employed and have accumulated enough credits over the years), or you can claim benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record (whether or not you ever worked), provided that certain requirements are met.

      

Do you qualify? You may qualify for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Your ex-spouse is currently entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • You and your ex-spouse were married for at least 10 years before the divorce became final
  • You are not currently married
  • You are age 62 or older, and
  • You aren’t entitled to collect a retirement or disability benefit based on your own earnings record that equals (or exceeds) one-half of your ex-spouse’s PIA

If you are age 62 or older and you’ve been divorced for at least two years, you can receive Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings regardless of whether that spouse is already receiving benefits. This, of course, is assuming that the other four requirements listed above have been satisfied.

How much can you receive? If you begin receiving benefits at your full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on your year of birth), your spousal benefit is equal to 50% of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit (or disability benefit). For example, if your ex-spouse’s benefit at full retirement age is $1,500, then your spousal benefit is $750. If you decide not to collect retirement benefits until full retirement age, you may be able to maximize your Social Security income by claiming your spousal benefit first. By opting to receive your spousal benefit at full retirement age, you can delay claiming benefits based on your own earnings record (up until age 70) in order to earn delayed retirement credits. This can boost your benefit by as much as 32%. Because deciding when to begin receiving Social Security benefits is a complicated decision and may have tax consequences, consult a professional for help with your individual situation.

How does remarriage affect benefits? If your ex-spouse gets remarried and you don’t, your Social Security entitlement will be unaffected. If you remarry, you generally can’t collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record unless your current marriage ends. Any spousal benefits you receive will instead be based on your current spouse’s earnings record.

What if your ex-spouse has died? You may also qualify for Social Security survivors benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record if your former spouse has died.

For more information on how divorce may affect your Social Security benefits, contact the SSA at (800) 772-1213 or visit socialsecurity.gov.

-Hal B. Holland, Jr., RFC®  www.vision-financialgroup.com

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Investment Advisor Representative of Investment Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor and a division of ProEquities, Inc. Securities offered through ProEquities, Inc., a Registered Broker-Dealer, Member FINRA & SIPC.  Vision Financial Group, Inc. is Independent of ProEquities, Inc.

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