Divorce & Social Security – What You Need to Know

In the stress of divorce, your thoughts might be focused on who gets the house, the kids and the cars. But a good divorce lawyer will remind you that you also need to consider your retirement, even if you are decades away from it.

So many Americans are behind where they should be in their savings that Social Security may become their primary income source after retirement. Your divorce can affect the amount of Social Security you ultimately receive.

Keep the following Social Security information in mind if you’re going through a divorce.

Collecting Benefits Based on Your Former Spouse’s Work Record

In instances where one spouse earned more than the other during the marriage, the spouse who earned less is entitled to Social Security at the rate of the higher paid spouse in some instances:

  • You have to have been married for at least 10 years.
  • You currently must be unmarried.
  • You must be at least 62 years old to collect the benefits, unless your ex-spouse is diseased. Then you can begin collecting benefits at age 60 if you wish.
  • If you are disabled and your former spouse is deceased, you can collect Social Security benefits as early as age 50.

Remarrying Can Affect Your Social Security Benefit

This is an important fact to keep in mind, because remarriage is quite common these days. In 2013, four out of every 10 marriages involved a spouse who had been married previously, according to the Pew Research Center.

Generally speaking, getting remarried discontinues your rights to claim Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s work history, according to financial education website The Motley Fool. Instead, you’ll have spousal benefit eligibility from your new spouse, which typically takes effect after a year of marriage.

You Could Find Yourself Without Social Security Benefits

Let’s say you have not worked long enough during your life to accumulate your own Social Security benefits once you reach retirement age, and you and your spouse were married less than 10 years.

“This is an unfortunate situation where you will find yourself unable to claim spousal benefits,” says John Griffith.

Our hope is that Social Security is just one piece of your retirement pie. If you’re contemplating divorce and thinking far enough ahead to wonder how it may affect your retirement years, you’re on the right track. You may need to consult a financial planner in addition to a divorce attorney to map out a plan for your future as a single person.

Please call (858) 345-1720 today for a complimentary consultation if you’re considering divorce and have questions.