Ex-Spouse’s Social Security
Your ex-spouse’s social security benefits can be an important issue to consider in your divorce. It could be more advantageous for you to claim your ex-spouse’s social security benefits and delay making a claim for your benefits. There are several factors that can affect how much you receive in Social Security benefits.
You may not be eligible to receive your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. Not all divorced couples are eligible to receive additional benefits once they start claiming Social Security, and there are certain requirements you’ll have to meet. The first thing to consider is how your benefits compare to your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. If you are receiving more in Social Security benefits than your ex-spouse you’re not eligible for any additional money each month. If you have not claimed benefits yet but are expected to receive more than your ex-spouse you’re not eligible for any additional money each month. But if you’re receiving less each month than your ex-spouse, you may be eligible for an increase in benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record.
In order to start claiming your ex-spouse’s social security benefits, you must be at least 62 years old. Exactly how much extra you’ll receive depends on the age at which you claim. In order to receive the full amount you’re entitled to, you’ll have to wait until your full retirement age (FRA). If you claim before then (as early as age 62), your benefits will be reduced. By waiting until your FRA you can receive half of the amount he or she is receiving in benefits.
Length of Marriage
Assuming you’re receiving less than your ex-spouse in benefits, there are a few other requirements you’ll need to meet. First, you and your former spouse must have been married for at least 10 years, and you cannot currently be married. It does not matter whether your ex-spouse has remarried or not. If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on their record if you have been divorced for at least two years. If you’re eligible for benefits based on your own work record, that money will be paid out first. Then if you’re also eligible to receive extra benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, you’ll receive an additional amount each month.
Effect on Ex-Spouse’s Social Security Benefits
Regardless of how much you may receive in benefits based on your ex-spouse’s social security benefits record, it doesn’t affect how much they or their spouse will receive. As an example, if your ex-wife is receiving benefits based on your record, you and your current wife’s benefits will not be reduced as a result. The amount of benefits you receive has no effect on the amount of benefits your ex-spouse or their current spouse may receive.
If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:
- You are unmarried;
- You are age 62 or older;
- Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
- The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
Amount of Benefits
Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age. The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.
If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment).
Payments of Benefits
If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record and an ex-spouse’s social security benefits, you will receive your retirement benefit first. If the benefit on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you will get an additional amount on your ex-spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
Claiming Your Benefits
If you were born before January 2, 1954, and have already reached full retirement age, you can choose to receive only your ex-spouse’s social security benefits and delay receiving your retirement benefit until a later date. If your birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at full retirement age no longer exists. If you file for one benefit, you will be effectively filing for all retirement or spousal benefits.
If you continue to work while receiving benefits, the retirement benefit earnings limit still applies. If you will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government work, your Social Security benefit on your ex-spouse’s record may be affected.
10 Years of Work
You can begin claiming 100% of your benefits if you have worked for at least 10 years. This can start when you reach the ages of 66 or 67, depending on when you were born. The earliest you can claim benefits is age 62, but the monthly payout will be permanently reduced. Your Social Security benefit is equal to an average of monthly wages for the 35 highest-earning working years, adjusted for inflation. Once you start collecting Social Security, your spouse, ex-spouse, and any children under age 19 who are in school or over age 18 and disabled are also entitled to benefits. Any benefits received by your relatives will not reduce the amount you receive, although there are maximum limits for families.
Amount You Could Receive
When a married person claims Social Security benefits, they will either receive their own benefit based on their working history or up to 50% of their spouse’s benefit, whichever is greater. To receive the maximum Social Security spousal benefit, you must reach their full retirement age, not be earning income from a job, and be married to someone who is receiving a Social Security benefit greater than the amount you are eligible for. In this case, the lower-earning spouse can receive exactly half of their partner’s benefit in perpetuity. If you have not yet reached their full retirement age (but are older than 62) and wish to begin claiming benefits as soon as your spouse is eligible, your monthly payout will be reduced below 50% of their spouse’s.
Ex Spouse Worked 10 Years
Divorcees who were married to the worker for at least 10 years, have not remarried, and are at least 62 years old can also claim half of the full retirement amount of their ex-spouse, but they don’t have to wait for their former spouse to claim benefits if they’ve been divorced for at least two years. Any amount of Social Security claimed by an ex-spouse will have no effect on the amount a current spouse can claim.
Amount Dependents Receive
A biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild can also receive Social Security benefits from a guardian who is already claiming their benefits. The dependent can receive up to 50% of the worker’s full retirement benefit as long as they are unmarried; under age 18; between age 18 and 19 and also a full-time student; or over age 18 but disabled. Typically, the total payout limit for families is between 150% and 180% of the primary worker’s full retirement benefit.
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