What You Need to Know About Social Security Benefits and Divorce

Getting a divorce not only takes a toll on your emotions, but it also impacts your retirement savings. Thankfully, if you are divorced but your marriage with your ex-spouse lasted at least a decade, you are entitled to receive social security benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she has already remarried.

How Retirement is affected after Divorce

A previous marriage that lasted 10 years or longer entitles you to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if:

  • You are 62-years-old or older.
  • You are unmarried.
  • The social security benefits you are entitled to receive based on your own work are less than the benefits you would receive based on your former spouse’s work.

If you remarried and that marriage has ended – whether by divorce, annulment, or death – you may still collect on your former spouse’s record. If, however, you are still married, you generally cannot collect benefits on your ex’s record.

Note that the amount of benefits you get will does not change the amount of benefits your former spouse – or his or her current spouse – may receive.

Collecting Social Security Benefits after Divorce

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may start receiving benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if you have been divorced for at least two years, even if he or she has not applied for retirement benefits yet.

If you are entitled to your former spouse’s benefits and your own retirement benefits, the SSA will pay the retirement benefit first. If your ex’s record is higher, you will receive an additional amount so that the combination of the two benefits equals the higher amount.

Note that if you are at full retirement age and were born before January 2, 1954, you have the option to receive only your former spouse’s benefit and delay your own retirement benefit for a later date. If, however, you were born January 2, 1954 or later, this option does not apply. Once you file for one benefit, you automatically file for all retirement and spousal benefits.

Divorce can prove to be a trying matter, but if you know what you are entitled to, then you are able to plan better for your future. If you need any legal counsel with regards to divorce, schedule a consultation with Lyttle Law Firm. You may check out our website for the list of practice areas we cover. You may also reach us at 512.215.5225.