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Unlike other things that must be addressed and divided in a divorce, Social Security benefits are often forgotten until after the divorce is over. This is because Social Security benefits are not actually subject to division in a divorce. However, under certain circumstances, divorced spouses are entitled to receive benefits based on their former spouse’s work history. As long as the necessary circumstances are met, the benefits a beneficiary spouse can receive are based on the former spouse’s entire work history - not just the period during which they were married.
The Social Security Administration requires individuals to meet the following circumstances to receive benefits based on their former spouse’s work record:
Spouses must have been married for at least 10 years, and divorced for at least two
The receiving spouse must still be unmarried
Both former spouses must be at least 62 years old
Individuals may only receive benefits for one person at a time. If the individual wants to collect benefits based on their former spouse’s work history, their own benefits must be less than their former spouses; whichever benefit is the higher amount is the benefit an individual collects. If someone is older than their former spouse and already has begun collecting their personal Social Security payments, once they apply to receive benefits through their former spouse they will stop receiving their own.
Payment amounts differ depending on how large the former spouse’s benefits are, but if the beneficiary is at full retirement age, they may receive half of the amount their former spouse is entitled to.
No. Collecting benefits based on a former spouse’s work record does not change the benefits of the former spouse. Individuals are not even notified if their former spouse applies to collect based on their work history. If a former spouse dies, the beneficiary spouse will be eligible for survivor benefits without changing the benefits of any of the former spouse’s other beneficiaries. However, if a potential beneficiary spouse gets remarried before age 60, they may not collect on their former spouse’s benefits.
At Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, our experienced and attentive DuPage County divorce attorneys will work hard to ensure you understand the financial implications of getting divorced so you can plan for your future. We have experience working with many people in situations like yours and can help you understand your options, providing attentive client service so you can focus on what matters most. Call our offices today at 630-920-8855 to find out what we can do for you.