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Social Security and Your Divorce

Should you worry about missing your spouse's Social Security benefits after you divorce? Usually speaking, no. If you are 62 years or older, if you were married for at least one decade, and if you are currently unmarried, then you may be able to use your ex's work record in order to get retirement benefits from Social Security. This is true if you further do not qualify for more in benefits through your own work record. But then your ex also has to meet certain requirements before you could collect any benefits. Your ex would also have to be at least 62 years old and to qualify for Social Security. You also have to have been divorced for no less than two years. But he or she does not have to be collecting in order for you to collect. It also does not matter if your ex is currently married. And neither would this do anything to change benefits for your ex's current spouse.

Now how much could you still collect through your ex's Social Security? Generally, you could get as much as 50 percent of their Social Security benefits, but you would probably get less if they started getting benefits before they were 66 years old. If you qualify for benefits based on your own income, then you would get those benefits instead if they are higher.

What happens if you have remarried? You would then be unable to qualify for your ex's Social Security. Now if you are currently single and you have divorced twice, with each marriage having lasted more than a decade, then you could collect benefits from whichever ex has more Social Security benefits.

If your ex has since passed away, and your marriage lasted at least 10 years, then you could qualify for survivor benefits, meaning you could collect a full 100 percent of your ex's benefits. You might be able to collect as soon as you are 60 years old, or 50 years old for those who are disabled. However, if you remarry before you turn 60, you would be disqualified from these survivor benefits if your marriage does not end. If you remarry after you turn 60, then you would still qualify for survivor benefits.

To get the most out of your available benefits if you are working, you could submit a restricted application to Social Security once you reach retirement age. You could then get 50 percent of your ex's Social Security benefits. Then when you turn 70 years old, these benefits would stop and you could start collecting your own Social Security benefits, which would have increased by 32 percent. If you are a divorced widow or widower, and your ex passes away, you might be able to go from collecting your benefits to collecting survivor's benefits, if that is an increase. If you are already collecting survivor's benefits, you could elect to get your own benefits if that is more as well.

As more and more couples divorce in middle age and beyond, knowing what post-divorce life holds for retirement is more important than ever. If you are looking to get divorced later in life, learn more about what a divorce would mean for your future when you contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C. Our Long Island divorce lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and work to protect the retirement funds you have built up over the years as well. Whenever you are facing a divorce, having the right legal representation on your side can enable you to face the best future possible.