Will my Divorce Change my Social Security?

Social security benefits are often not on the top of your list of concerns when you are filing for divorce.  In reality, you need to be aware of how your divorce can affect your social security.  You may not know that you may still be eligible for part of your ex’s social security money.

First, you need to know that if you were married for less than ten years, even if it is nine years and 11 months, you are out of luck.  You are not eligible for any of your spouse’s social security benefits and they cannot file for any of yours.

For anyone who was married more than ten years, you can claim divorced spousal benefit.  The surprising thing is you can actually claim both benefits!  This is done by claiming for divorced spousal benefit when you are 66 and letting your benefits stay until you turn 70.  This can substantially add benefits for you over the rest of your life.

If you can receive $1,500 a month when you turn 66, but instead choose to claim a divorced spouse for $1,000 a month until you turn 70, your monthly benefit grows to almost $2,000.  Over the course of several years, you could easily receive more than $50,000 more in social security than you planned.

Remember that once you have filed for any type of social security, your benefits will be lowered if you work at the same time.  Also, if you file for social security before you reach full retirement age (at this time, it is 66 years old) you won’t have a choice of which type of benefit to receive.  You will be required to take whichever benefit is higher.

Getting remarried means you can no longer claim any social security from your ex.  Most people don’t care about this as they only have to be married to the new spouse for a year before they can become eligible for benefits based on the new spouse’s record.  If your new spouse has no income to report, you may not be eligible for any benefits other than your own.

Anyone who has been married more than once for more than ten years is eligible for benefits from both spouses, but you can only take the whichever amount is the highest.  You need to keep in mind that this works both ways.  If your ex has not remarried, they can claim divorced spousal benefits based on your work record.

Knowing which way to file can be very confusing.  To find out which option is best for you, schedule an appointment to discuss your options.  You will need your marriage license, divorce decree and a photo ID when you file a claim for benefits.

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