Divorce and Social Security
January 8, 2018
Divorce is complicated; so is social security. Divorce is a State issue; social security is a federal issue and is not affected by state divorce laws. So, social security is not usually addressed in a Marital Settlement Agreement.
If you have been married less than 10 years, you can only claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings. You can pull a Social Security statement online to see your estimated benefits.
If you have been married for at least 10 years, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your spouse’s earning, if his or her Social Security benefits are higher than yours. However, you are only entitled to 1/2 of the amount that your spouse would receive. This will not diminish your spouse’s Social Security benefit. In fact, one earner could have several ex-spouses collecting Social Security based on his or her income if each of those marriages lasted at least 10 years.
If you are divorced, you can claim the spousal benefit even if your ex has not retired, so long as he or she is eligible for benefits and you have been divorced for at least two years. But 100% of your own benefits may exceed 50% of your ex’s benefits. When you sign up for Social Security, your SSA representative can compare the numbers for you.
(*Information based on AARP Bulletin of March 2017)
For more information on divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.