Social Security Rules To Know If You’re Divorced 

If you’re divorced or will become divorced in the near feature, something that you need to educate yourself about is Social Security benefits.  You see, Social Security is going to account for a large portion of your total retirement income, so you want to ensure that you get the absolute best benefits possible.

But at the same time, the rules change a little bit if you’re divorced.  For example, you may claim work benefits from your spouse’s history, and they may claim yours.

Here are the Social Security rules to know if you’re divorced:

3 Factors Will Determine Your Total Benefit

Fundamentally, there are three different factors that will determine the total Social Security benefits you receive, and these are:

  • Your Work History
  • Your Spouse’s Work History
  • Your Age When You Claim

The same factors determine the benefits your ex-spouse will receive as well.  For the both of you, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will use a formula that includes your highest thirty five years of total wages. 

You May or May Not Be Able To Claim Benefits From Your Ex-Spouse’s Work Record

It’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to claim benefits from your ex-spouse’s work history or record after a divorce, and it’s your responsibility to find out if you are eligible.

You’ll only be able to claim benefits from your ex-spouse’s work record so long as the following criteria exist:

  • You were married for at least a full decade
  • Neither of you are remarried to someone else
  • You are at least sixty two years of age when you claim the benefits 
  • Your ex-spouse is eligible to receive Social Security 

So long as each of the following exists for your situation, you will be able to claim benefits.

Related: Getting A Divorce? What Happens To Your Retirement Accounts?

If You Are Eligible To Claim Social Security Based On Your Ex’s Work History…You Should

Why, you may wonder?

To keep things simple, because there’s literally no reason not to. After all, if you’re eligible and it’s being offered to you, why not claim it?

The only thing you need to remember is that if you claim the benefits of your ex-spouse, you also claim your own benefits.  This means that if you claim early, you can lose the chance for a delayed retirement credit, which will shrink the overall size of your Social Security benefit.

Your Ex Needs To Be Retired

Also remember that your ex-spouse must be retired before you can claim Social Security benefits based on his or her work record.  If you are divorced for less than two years from when you want to claim the benefits, you will need to wait until your ex-spouse has claimed their benefits as well.  

This is the same rule that applies for married couples as well, since it’s not permitted by the Federal Government to claim spousal benefits unless both you and your spouse are receiving the benefits.  

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