Broker Check
Divorced But Not Divorced From Your Benefits: A Guide to Divorced-Spouse Social Security

Divorced But Not Divorced From Your Benefits: A Guide to Divorced-Spouse Social Security

May 02, 2024

Divorce can be complex, and there's much to consider, including finances. Did you know that even after a divorce, you might still be eligible for benefits based on your ex-spouse's Social Security record?

This blog dives into the rules surrounding divorced spouse benefits, helping you understand if you qualify and how much you might receive.

Qualifying for Divorced-Spouse Benefits

To be eligible for divorced-spouse benefits, you must meet several criteria:

  • Be legally divorced from the worker whose record you're basing your claim on.
  • Have been married for at least ten (10) years.
  • Be currently unmarried.
  • Be at least 62 years old.

Essential Facts About Divorced-Spouse Benefits

Here's a breakdown of some key points to remember:

  • Your ex-spouse's age or filing status doesn't affect your eligibility. You can claim benefits even if your ex-spouse hasn't retired yet as long as you've been divorced for over two years.
  • The benefit amount depends on your ex-spouse's PIA (Primary Insurance Amount). If you claim at your full retirement age (FRA), you'll receive 50% of your ex-spouse's PIA.
  • You may receive your benefit first, then get an additional amount if your ex-spouse's PIA is significantly higher.
  • You can choose the higher benefit if you've been married twice and both marriages lasted at least ten (10) years. It would help if you researched both ex-husbands to determine which one will offer the more significant benefit.
  • Government pensions can affect your divorced-spouse benefits. In some cases, it might even reduce it to zero. Example: Sarah, a teacher in Nevada, never paid into Social Security. She currently receives a $2,500 monthly pension. After being divorced from Carl after a 15-year marriage, Sarah would be eligible for a divorced-spouse benefit based on Carl's PIA of $3,000. Sarah would be entitled to the portion of Carl's Social Security benefit that would exceed two-thirds of her monthly pension benefit or $1,667. Since Sarah would be claiming as a divorced spouse, assuming she claims at her full retirement age, she could receive half of Carl's benefit. However, in Sarah's case, because of the Government Pension Offset (GPO), she wouldn't be entitled to any of Carl's benefits because two-thirds of her pension exceeds half of Carl's monthly benefit. (50% of Carl's benefit is $1,500 - two-thirds of Sarah's benefit is $1,667). If Sarah did not have a government pension, she would receive $1,500/mo, based on Carl's Social Security record, assuming she claimed at full retirement age. 
  • Remarriage can stop your divorced-spouse benefits. There are some exceptions, though. Remarrying will generally stop your divorced-spouse benefits if your ex-spouse is still alive. There are some exceptions, though, such as if your new spouse also receives divorced-spouse or survivor benefits.

Note: Even if you don't qualify for divorced-spouse benefits now, you might be eligible for survivor benefits if your ex-spouse passes away. It's always best to be informed about your options.

Tips for Applying

  • Gather documents like your divorce decree (showing marriage and divorce dates).
  • Having your ex-spouse's Social Security number can expedite the process, but it's not mandatory.
  • Estimating the benefit amount beforehand might be tricky. You can use a broad ballpark figure based on average earnings.

Remember

  • This blog provides general information. For personalized advice, please consult with our Dixon Financial Group CFP® Professionals. Our advisors are ready to answer your questions.
  • The Social Security Administration (https://www.ssa.gov/) has resources like the "Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced" (https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/applying7.html) to help you navigate your specific situation.

Hopefully, this blog clarifies the eligibility and claiming process for divorced-spouse benefits. By understanding your options, you can make informed decisions about your financial future.

If you are a current client or need a financial advisor, contact our offices for a consultation so we can answer your Social Security questions.

Click or call today!


#DixonFinancialGroupLV #Divorced-SpouseBenefits #SocialSecurity #RetirementPlanning #CFP®PROFESSIONAL