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How Does Divorce Affect Social Security Benefits?

Everyone in the United States should be planning for retirement to ensure they can support themselves after they leave the workforce. No matter how carefully you plan, there may always be events or factors that throw your plan off course. One such event is a divorce, especially if you and your former spouse planned for retirement together. If you have divorced, you may worry that you will lose all benefits associated with your former spouse’s Social Security. Fortunately, this is not always the case, as the Social Security Administration lets you collect under your former spouse’s Social Security record as long as certain criteria are met.

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Former Spouse

The amount of Social Security benefits to which you are entitled upon retirement is based on your record of employment during your working life. The more you paid into Social Security via paychecks, the higher your benefits may be. In marriages where one spouse worked significantly more than the other, the spouse who stayed home is entitled to receive benefits based on their spouse’s work record. A spouse may receive 50 percent of the benefits to which the working spouse is entitled.
If you were counting on a spouse’s work record to receive Social Security benefits, yet then you divorced, you may worry that you are no longer eligible for those benefits. The good news is that you may still be eligible, whether or not your former spouse has remarried, as long as the following criteria apply:
· You are at least 62 years of age;
· You were married for at least 10 years to your former spouse;
· You have not remarried, or any subsequent marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death. If you had more than one marriage end, you may receive benefits on the record of one of those former spouses, but not both;
· Your former spouse qualifies for either retirement or disability benefits from Social Security;
· The benefits you would receive based on your former spouse’s employment record are higher than the amount you would receive based on your own work record;
· If your former spouse is qualified to receive benefits but has not yet applied to do so, you may apply for benefits on their record two years after the date of divorce; and
· If you apply for benefits on a former spouse’s record while you are still working or before you are at full retirement age, a limit will be placed on the benefits you receive.
An experienced divorce lawyer can assist you in figuring out whether it is in your best interest to apply for benefits under your former spouse’s record.

Contact a Family Law Attorney in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale for Help

If you have any questions or concerns regarding retirement benefits or any other issue related to divorce or family law, experienced Florida attorney Alan R. Burton can help you. At our office, we handle a wide array of family law cases and strive to achieve the very best results possible for each of our clients. Do not hesitate to call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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