How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits

Getting divorced is generally acknowledged as a difficult endeavor emotionally, but its impact of your finances can also present challenges, especially in the often-overlooked area of retirement benefits such as Social Security.

To protect yourself, you’ll want to become well versed in the following ways that divorce can impact your Social Security benefits:

  • Get to know the decade factor. If you’ve been married at least 10 years, and divorced for at least two, you can usually qualify for spousal benefits. That means you can choose your ex-spouse’s benefit if it is higher than your own claim.
  • Decide to double up. If you qualify for a spousal benefit, the good news is that you can still claim that benefit and wait to claim your own benefit at a later date. This means you may ultimately obtain a higher benefit since you’re waiting until you reach full retirement age (currently age 70).
  • Beware of early benefits. If you decide to take early benefits (between age 62 and 70) you will be required to take the higher of spousal or personal benefits. If you end up working, your benefits may be reduced because of earnings limits.
  • Understand the repercussions of remarriage. If you get remarried you typically will lose the benefit you received from your ex-spouse. However, after a year of marriage you will be eligible for spousal benefits based on your new partner’s record. If you meet the 10-year threshold for more than one marriage, you can claim the higher of the two benefits.  If neither former spouse remarries, they can both claim spousal benefits on your record.

In any case, you do not have to wait until your ex-spouse files for benefits before you file a spousal claim, as long as you are both at least 62 years old.

Divorce can present a variety of challenges beyond finances and Social Security benefits, so work with a skilled Long Island divorce attorney from Bryan L. Salamone & Associates for the advice you need.

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