If you are divorced, you may be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on the earnings of your ex-spouse. To collect Social Security benefits based on a former spouse’s earnings record, a divorced spouse must meet these requirements:
• You must have been married to that spouse for 10 years or more.
• You must be at least age 62.
• You cannot currently be married.
As a former spouse, you must be entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits at the time the former spouse applies (whether or not the former spouse has actually started collecting benefits). You can receive benefits on an ex-spouse’s record if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years and the ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them. If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you will get an additional amount so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
If you were born before January 2, 1954, and have already reached full retirement age, you can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefit and delay receiving your own retirement benefit until a later date. If your birthday is January 2, 1954, or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If you file for one benefit, you will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits. If you continue to work while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to you and your ex-spouse. If you are eligible for benefits this year and also working, you can use our retirement earnings test calculator to see how your earnings would affect those benefit payments. In general, a divorced spouse is entitled to a Social Security benefit that’s equivalent to 50% of the ex-spouse’s retirement benefit even if the ex-spouse has remarried. If the spouse is deceased, the former partner may be eligible for a survivor’s benefit of up to 100% of that amount. In either case, the divorced spouse must have reached full retirement age in order to receive the full (50% or 100%) benefit. If the person files before reaching retirement age, the benefit will be permanently reduced. (This is true, by the way, for anyone applying for the Social Security old-age benefit. You can file as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be set at a lower amount.) If the divorced spouse was married and divorced more than once, and each marriage lasted the required 10 years, that person is entitled to the higher of the two benefits, but not both.45. Even if the former spouse remarries and the new spouse is collecting Social Security benefits based on that person’s employment record, the ex-partner can also collect based on that record.
If you remarry while receiving benefits based on your ex-spouse entitlement, and that person is still alive, you will no longer be eligible for those benefits.
If your ex has not yet applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits based on the ex-spouse’s earnings record, provided you meet the other requirements and have been divorced for at least two years. If you decide to begin collecting spousal benefits before your full retirement age, you can expect to receive a lower amount. If your full retirement age is 66 and you begin to receive spousal benefits at age 62, you will receive 30% of your spouse’s monthly benefit. If you claim spousal benefits at age 65, you will receive slightly less than 50% of your spouse’s monthly benefit, depending on the exact month you start collecting payments. Depending on your circumstance, you may be eligible to receive spousal benefits early without reductions. “If you are caring for a spouse’s child who is under age 16 and receives Social Security, you can collect spousal benefits early without the reduction in spousal benefits.” You will still need to be married for at least one year before applying for benefits. Spousal benefits differ from personal benefits when it comes to delaying payments. If you delay personal benefits past full retirement age, the benefit increases over time. However, spousal benefits max out at full retirement age. There is no benefit to delaying your spousal benefit claim past your full retirement age.
Divorce and Social Security Spousal Benefits
If you are divorced, you must have been married for at least 10 years to be eligible for a spousal benefit through your ex-spouse. In addition, you’ll need to have been divorced for at least two years and be currently unmarried. “Both you and your ex-spouse must be at least 62. If you marry someone else after getting a divorce, you will not be eligible to receive spousal benefits through your ex-spouse. You will instead be eligible for spousal benefits based on your new spouse’s work record. In the event that your second marriage ends in divorce, you can choose to receive whichever spousal benefit is highest, provided the other requirements are met and both marriages lasted at least 10 years. “If your second marriage didn’t last 10 years, you’ll still be eligible to collect benefits on your first spouse’s record.” Your benefits could be impacted by certain events, including the death of your spouse. You may be eligible to receive a Social Security survivor benefit equal to the full benefit your spouse was receiving. “If you are married and your spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will keep the higher of the two Social Security payments.” If you got divorced and your ex-spouse passed away, you can still claim survivor benefits if you are 60 or older. To be eligible, the marriage will need to have lasted for at least 10 years. If your spouse passes away and you get remarried, the benefits could change. “The important thing to remember in receiving survivor benefits is that if you remarry before age 60, this will cut off your eligibility to collect on your deceased spouse’s or deceased ex-spouse’s record.” “This could be a very expensive decision, because while a spousal benefit entitles you to 50% of the other spouse’s benefits, a survivor benefit would entitle you to 100% of those benefits.”
Eligibility Requirements for Divorced Spouses
Before you can receive benefits on your ex-husband’s Social Security work record, you must meet all of the following spousal-benefit eligibility requirements:
• your ex is entitled to Social Security retirement benefits
• your marriage lasted at least 10 years
• you are unmarried
• you’re at least 62 years old, and
• the benefit you’re entitled to on your own work record is less than the benefit you’d receive on your ex’s record.
If your ex-husband hasn’t applied for benefits yet, but qualifies for them and is age 62 or older, you can receive benefits on his record if you’ve been divorced from him for at least two years and meet all of the requirements listed above.
Eligibility When Your Ex-Spouse is Deceased
If your ex-husband dies, you may receive benefits on his record, as long as your marriage lasted for at least 10 years. If you don’t meet the 10-year marriage rule, you can still qualify for benefits if all of the following are true:
• you’re caring for your ex-husband’s natural or legally adopted child
• the child is under age 16, or disabled, and
• the child is getting benefits on your ex-husband’s work record.
Your benefits will continue until the child reaches age 16 or the child’s disability ceases. The amount of benefits you receive as a divorced spouse will not affect the amount of benefits other survivors (such as another ex-spouse) receive on your ex’s record.
Types of Social Security Benefits
There are four basic types of benefits based on the person receiving them. The types are retirement, disability, survivors and supplemental benefits.
Retirement benefits are what typically come to mind when most people think of Social Security. Such benefits are available for people 62 or older who have worked at least 10 years. Your benefit amount will vary based on your pre-retirement salary as well as the age at which you begin collecting benefits. While it is not meant to be your only source of income, it can help you avoid debt during your retirement years. Additionally, your spouse or divorced spouse may be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits even if he or she has not paid into the program.
Disability benefits support people who cannot work because of disabilities. As with retirement benefits, you need to have worked a certain number of years to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The amount of work you need depends on your age, and your monthly benefit amount depends on your pre-disability salary. SSDI benefits may also be available for your spouse or divorced spouse.
Survivors’ benefits can help bridge financial gaps for survivors of workers and retirees. Eligible recipients typically include help for widows and widowers, divorced spouses and children. The level of benefits depends on a number of factors, including the worker’s age at death, the worker’s salary, the survivors’ ages and the survivors’ relation to the deceased. There is also death benefit for survivors that is a one-time payment of $255 that goes to the spouse or children of a deceased worker.
Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) helps people who are unable to earn sufficient wages on their own. It is available to adults with disabilities, children with disabilities and people 65 or older. Individuals with enough work history may be eligible to receive SSI in addition to disability or retirement benefits. The amount individuals receive varies based on their other sources of income and where they live.
Social Security Funding
The Social Security program is funded primarily through dedicated payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA). Employers also pay Social Security taxes. This funding method has not changed since the program’s inception. Revenue collected and not used immediately is credited to the Social Security Trust Fund and invested in securities issued by the U.S. Treasury to fund government operations.
Recipients of Social Security benefits receive payouts once a month. Full retirement benefits are available to you when you reach your full retirement age, which is between 65 and 67 depending on your year of birth. For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67. For those born before then, the retirement age may be lower by a number of months. Although retirement benefits are available to people 62 or older, the program encourages seniors to wait until they are of full retirement age before they begin collecting retirement benefits. Early collection of benefits results in a permanent decrease in monthly benefit amounts. The earlier you begin collecting, the fewer benefits you receive over time.
Amount of Benefits
A divorced spouse generally receives 50% of the disabled worker’s primary insurance amount (the amount of his or her monthly SSDI check). However, this amount is reduced if you collect it before reaching full retirement age. Also, if the divorced spouse is collecting a mother’s or father’s benefit and the disabled worker’s children are collecting SSDI benefits at the same time, the divorced spouse’s benefit can be reduced. The total of the divorced spouse’s benefit and the children’s benefit cannot be greater than the maximum family benefit, which is generally 150% of the deceased worker’s monthly SSDI benefit.
Note that the benefits paid to a divorced spouse based on being over 60 or disabled are not counted toward the maximum family benefit and won’t affect a current spouse’s or child’s benefits. A divorced spouse’s benefit is counted toward the maximum family benefit only when the divorced spouse is receiving an SSDI benefit based on being a parent of a child under 16 or disabled. A surviving divorced spouse’s benefits are usually more, and vary between 75% and 100%, depending on the divorced spouse’s age and whether he or she takes care of minor or disabled children. Here are the rules:
• A mother or father taking care of a minor or disabled child will receive 75% percent of the deceased worker’s PIA (primary insurance amount–the monthly disability amount).
• An ex-husband or ex-wife between age 60 and full retirement age (66 or 67) will receive 71-99% percent of the deceased worker’s PIA.
• An ex-husband or ex-wife who is 66 or 67 or older will receive 100% of the deceased worker’s PIA.
Post Divorce Retirement Lawyer
When you need legal help collecting social security from your ex-spouse after a divorce, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506