Author: Emily Tierney
Getting a divorce is a major life change that has an effect on many different areas in a person’s life. Social Security may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking through the ramifications of divorce, but divorce does affect Social Security benefits. How does getting a divorce impact your spousal benefit options with Social Security?
You Can Still Get Benefits Based on Ex-Spouse’s Earnings
If your marriage lasted ten years or more, you can still receive Social Security retirement benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earning record. For example, say you are a sixty-three-year old divorced woman who stayed home raising four kids while her husband worked. You didn’t enter the workforce since your ex-husband made enough to support the family. You are now wondering if you can get Social Security retirement benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record. The answer is yes.
What if your ex-spouse is remarried?
As long as you are not remarried, you are still eligible. If you are unmarried, are over age 62, your Social Security retirement benefit is less than what you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s record, and your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits, then you can receive a Social Security retirement benefit based on your ex-spouse’s earnings. Your ex-spouse getting remarrying does not affect your eligibility.
What If Your Ex-Spouse Hasn’t Filed for Social Security Benefits Yet?
Even if your ex-spouse hasn’t yet filed for Social Security benefits, you can still receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record if you have been divorced for a minimum of two years. It must be higher than your own benefit.
What If Your Ex-Spouse Dies?
If your ex-spouse dies and your marriage lasted for at least ten years, you can still receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record. Even if you remarry after you reach age 60, your new marriage won’t affect your ability to apply for survivor’s benefits.
Can I Work Part-Time and Get Benefits Based on My Ex-Spouse’s Earnings Record?
You can work part-time and get retirement benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earning record, but there is a limitation. If you continue to work while receiving benefits before your full retirement age, the earnings limitation applies and you will be penalized for wages above certain amounts. This penalization is a permanent reduction in benefits.
There are many things to consider when thinking about drawing a retirement benefit based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record. If you have questions about your Social Security benefits, consider contacting your local Social Security office directly or visiting SSA.gov for more information.
- “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced” Social Security Administration, 2016, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html. Accessed 10 August 2016.
- “Survivors Planner: If You Are The Worker’s Widow Or Widower” Social Security Administration, 2016, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou2.html. Accessed 10 August 2016.
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