Social Security and Divorce

Divorcing late in life is becoming more common. This brings up questions about how dividing finances works for retirement assets. One area where this is easy is Social Security benefits. In fact, you may be able to claim your ex-spouse’s benefits long after a divorce happened if you meet certain conditions.


First, to even think of claiming your ex-spouse’s benefits, you had to have been married for at least 10 years and not currently be remarried. You will also need to wait at least two years after the divorce unless your ex-spouse is already receiving disability or retirement money. If you meet these requirements, here’s what you can do.


The magic age to start collecting on spousal benefits is 66 (at least up to 2020 as of the time of this writing). If you wait until full retirement age you can collect up to half of what your ex-spouse can collect at their full retirement age. Your spouse will still be able to collect their full amount as well. Why is this good? You can defer your main SSI payment until age 70, which boosts your final payments dramatically, 8% a year plus inflation.


However, in order to make the best decision on whether to take your benefits or spousal benefits you will need access to your ex-partner’s earnings information. The Social Security Administration can get you those numbers with an in-person meeting and proof of marriage, but it is easier to just get them from your ex’s Social Security Earnings Statement.


For more information about how divorce affects retirement benefits, contact Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC.

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