Divorce and collecting Social Security benefits

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Divorce on Thursday, January 3, 2013.

The increase in older couples getting divorced has led many to wonder how their retirement and Social Security benefits will be impacted. Divorce will impact finances in many ways so it is important for divorcing spouses, especially those already retired or close to retirement, to consider the impact divorce will have on collecting Social Security benefits.

There are several factors that impact an ex-spouse's ability to receive Social Security benefits from their ex-spouse's record. It is important to note that the amount of benefits a spouse receives does not impact the amount of benefits their ex-spouse or current spouse can receive.

Below are the different factors that affect an individual's ability to receive Social Security benefits from their ex-spouse.

For couples who have been married for 10 years or longer, spouses can receive Social Security benefits from their ex-spouse's record even if he or she has remarried they are:

  • Unmarried,
  • Age 62 or older,
  • Ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and,
  • The benefit amount the individual would receive based on their own work history is less than the amount they would receive based on their ex-spouse's work history.

Individuals whose ex-spouse has not applied for benefits but are eligible to receive them can still receive Social Security benefits from their ex's record if they have been divorced for at least two years.

Divorced spouses who get remarried are usually not eligible to receive benefits from their ex-spouse's record unless their current marriage ends through death, divorce or annulment.

Divorce can have a huge impact on both spouse's finances and it is important to address these issues with a family law attorney to ensure the proper procedures and discussions are made before it's too late.

Source: CNN Money, "How does divorce affect Social Security benefits?" Dec. 31, 2012