How will my Social Security Benefits be Affected by my Divorce?

When you decide to end your marriage, especially if you are still relatively young, Social Security will likely not be at the top of your list of worries.  However, you need to consider how your benefits may be affected by splitting from your spouse.

Many people do not realize that if your marriage lasts at least 10 years, you may be able to draw on your spouse’s Social Security benefits when you turn 62.  This might not seem like a big deal, but if you are younger than your spouse, you can use their benefits and not touch yours until you are older, meaning your benefits will be higher each month because you didn’t start withdrawing them as soon as you could.  By doing this, you could have thousands more in benefits!  You may want out of your marriage as soon as possible, but if you are close to that 10 year mark, you may want to delay your divorce.

Claiming your spousal benefits will not change the amount your ex receives, nor do you need his/her permission to do so.  You just need to contact your local Social Security office to start your claim.  They will tell you what information you need to start your application and can also tell you whether claiming your spousal benefits will help you at all.  If you earned a great deal more than your spouse, your own benefits may be higher.  The best thing you can do is talk to a representative of Social Security in person and make your choice.

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Your marriage must last 10 consecutive years.  You cannot marry, divorce, and remarry someone in the hopes that your will reach the 10 years of wedded bliss.  Believe it or not, some people have remarried former spouses in an attempt to claim spousal benefits.  This only works if you manage to stay married the full 10 years the second time around.

Often, the wife is the one who has the much smaller income, but this is not always the case.  If you were married for at least 10 years, and never remarried, you can claim spousal benefits.  Even if your spouse remarries, you are still entitled to those benefits.  Because waiting for even a few years to start claiming your own benefits can significantly raise your monthly amount, it is definitely a good idea to check into claiming spousal benefits when you turn 62.

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