The divorce process includes negotiating a plan for what will happen to assets and debt as well as the support needs of the family. There are many misconceptions about how social security benefits may be claimed after a divorce. Outlined below are some of the most common misconceptions about social security benefits for ex-spouses and general information on how the process works.
The assumption by many individuals is that upon divorce, an ex-spouse is unable to claim social security spousal benefits. However, this may not be the case. As outlined on the Social Security Administration’s website, an ex-spouse is entitled to make a claim to the former spouse’s social security benefits. The marriage must have lasted at least ten years for the ex-spouse to be able to receive the benefits. Additionally, the ex-spouse seeking to receive the benefits must be unmarried and must be at least 62 years old. The ex-spouse seeking to receive the benefit also must be entitled to social security retirement or disability benefits. Also, the benefit that the ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on the other party’s work must be more than the benefit they would be entitled to receive based on their own work.
One of the most common misconceptions about social security benefits for divorced couples is that an ex-spouse may be able to influence the other spouse’s social security benefits. This is actually false. A claim for the benefits by an ex-spouse will have no impact on the other party’s benefits. Additionally, once a party remarries, the current spouse will also not be affected by the ex-spouse’s claim to benefits.
Another common misconception about social security benefits post-divorce is that an ex-spouse cannot receive benefits on the other party’s record if that party has not yet applied for retirement benefits. However, as long as the party is qualified for retirement benefits, the ex-spouse may still be able to receive the benefits as long as the parties have been divorced for at least two years.
With this information in mind, many individuals may still be hesitant to pursue a claim on an ex-spouse’s social security, especially if the parties are not in communication. However, there does not need to be approval or authorization by one ex-spouse in order for the other to make a claim to the benefits. The Social Security Administration may need information in order to locate the record, but the ex-spouse may not need to be contacted directly for the claim to be made.
Social security benefits may seem difficult to navigate, especially after a divorce. Your attorney may assist you in understanding how the process works and what you may be entitled to claim. In making the election for benefits, it is important to be informed about the options available. Social security benefits are a valuable income stream that should not be ignored.