Social Security is well-known for the numerous benefits it provides, including retirement, family, and disability. If you’re married, you and your spouse can pool these benefits. But what if you’re divorced? You might still have access to your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. Post-divorce, a common question arises: what happens to my Social Security benefits? If you were married for a minimum of ten years and are now divorced, you could potentially draw benefits based on your ex-spouse’s employment history.
Claiming ex-spouse benefits at your full retirement age will give you the maximum possible amount. If you decide to claim at the age 62, the social security benefit amount is lowered to at least 32.5% of your ex-spouse’s total benefit. It’s worth mentioning that your claiming of benefits won’t affect your ex-spouse’s share. Both your benefits are calculated separately, and what you receive does not change what your ex-spouse gets. Each of you will get what you’re eligible for based on your respective work records.
But who exactly qualifies for Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse?
Your ex-spouse doesn’t need to be receiving their retirement benefits for you to claim your share. However, if they aren’t, you must have been divorced for at least two years. This requirement is waived if your ex-spouse is already receiving benefits. It’s essential to remember that if you remarry, you’ll typically lose the right to draw benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work history. However, if you divorce again, you may regain this eligibility.
If you’re divorced, you could be entitled to Social Security benefits, taken from your ex-spouse’s earning history, as long as you meet certain criteria. To claim your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, you must meet the following conditions:
- Have been married for at least a decade
- Be 62 years old or older
- Be currently unmarried
Your ex-spouse is either eligible for Social Security benefits or is already receiving them.
Now, how much can you receive from your ex-spouse’s benefits?
Your share is calculated based on 50% of the total benefit amount your ex-spouse would get at their full retirement age. If you choose to claim the benefits before reaching your full retirement age, you’ll receive a smaller amount. If your ex-spouse remarries, it won’t impact your benefits. However, if your ex-spouse passes away, you could qualify for survivor benefits, which can be up to 100% of the amount your ex-spouse was receiving or would have been entitled to.
Yes, you can receive ex-spouse Social Security benefits and continue working simultaneously. But, if you apply for these benefits before full retirement and haven’t yet reached the full retirement age, your additional income could temporarily lessen your benefit amount. You need to submit an application to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This will require proof of your marriage, your divorce, and personal documents like your birth certificate, Social Security card, and other identification.
You can start applying for divorced spouse benefits three months before you turn 62. This can be done online, through your My Social Security account, over the phone at 800-772-1213, or in-person at your local Social Security office.
What if you have your own Social Security benefits?
If you’re eligible for your own Social Security benefits and qualify for ex-spouse benefits as well, the SSA will first pay out your personal benefits. If these exceed the amount from your ex-spouse’s record, you won’t get any additional ex-spouse benefits.
Divorced individuals need to be aware of their entitlements regarding ex-spouse Social Security benefits. These can provide much-needed financial support during retirement. The rules can be complex, so it might be wise to seek professional advice or reach out to the SSA for more detailed information. Make sure you claim all the benefits you’re entitled to and get what’s rightfully yours.
Weighing the pros and cons of claiming your Social Security benefits earlier
We all know that, given a specific moment in life, we all want to retire and enjoy the benefits for which we have contributed funds for years. Social Security benefits can change the lives of retirees, but asking for them too early has its pros and cons. Whether it’s paying off debts, funding higher education for loved ones, or embarking on a well-deserved adventure, early benefit claims can unlock a world of possibilities but also some drawbacks.
Emerging health concerns and the uncertainty of longevity often lead individuals to consider claiming Social Security benefits at the earliest opportunity. By accessing these benefits early, individuals can secure a stable income stream that helps alleviate the financial burden that may arise from unforeseen medical expenses or reduced earning potential due to health issues.
Now, here’s the other side of the thing: while claiming Social Security benefits early can bring immediate financial relief, there are costs associated with this decision. By claiming benefits before reaching full retirement age, the retirees may experience a reduction in the monthly benefit amount received. This reduction, often in the range of b, is a trade-off for the earlier access to funds and should be carefully weighed against long-term financial objectives.
If you start receiving the payments early, the monthly amount received will be smaller, compared to if you decide to wait until the full retirement age. Also, claiming early can potentially reduce the survivor benefits available to the surviving spouse, emphasizing the importance of considering the long-term financial implications for both individuals in the couple.