When it comes to shorter marriages, divorce is often a relatively straightforward endeavor. But the longer a marriage lasts, the more entwined two lives become. Divorce is really a process of untangling, and as more years pass, the harder that becomes. For marriages of more than ten years, it’s important to know how divorce impacts Social Security. You may be eligible to receive benefits based on your ex’s work history. This often impacts your future financial state, so here’s what you should know.
SOCIAL SECURITY: THE BASICS
Many factors come into play in regards to collecting Social Security against your ex’s employment history. The length of the marriage is the biggest one, as you must have been married for at least ten years. You must also be at least 62-years-old and currently unmarried, though it doesn’t matter if your former spouse remarries or not.
One other key part to consider is that to receive Social Security based on your ex, any benefit established on your own employment record must be less. In short, you can receive one payment or the other, not both. The good news is that you get to keep whichever benefit is larger, which is nice.
In order to procure these Social Security benefits, your ex must actually be eligible to receive retirement or disability to begin with. That may seem like an obvious point, but the question does come up. Your former spouse doesn’t have to file for Social Security yet, just be eligible. If your divorce was more than two years prior, you can still make this claim.
What exactly you receive depends a great deal on what your ex qualifies for. When you choose to collect also has an impact. If you wait until full retirement age, you’re eligible to receive half of the amount your former spouse gathers. You can also opt to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex’s work record before hitting full retirement age. In this case, however, you get less money.
SOCIAL SECURITY AND THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE
Death is a regular part of life, and this is especially true as we continue to age. Losing a long-time spouse is one of the most difficult things many people will ever do. Though it’s likely bittersweet, there is a bit of good news: you may still be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s employment history, even if you’re divorced.
If you meet the criteria of a surviving divorced spouse, you stand to receive Social Security benefits. In this situation, the benefits are a full 100% of the amount your ex collected at the time of death. There are, of course, certain conditions. Again, the marriage must have lasted a minimum of ten years. You also must be older than 60, or 50 if you have a disability.
Remarriage also impacts whether or not you can collect Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse. Remarrying before you turn 60 (or 50 with a disability) means you no longer meet the requirements. On the other hand, if you remarry after 60 (or 50 with a disability), you’re still able to collect based on your ex’s employment history.
SOCIAL SECURITY AND MULTIPLE MARRIAGES
Multiple divorces are almost as common as multiple marriages. (Statistically speaking, each subsequent marriage has an exponentially greater chance of ending in divorce.) Depending on who remarries, you or your spouse, it impacts future Social Security claims.
If you marry multiple times: You can still collect Social Security based on your ex’s work record, even if you marry multiple times. For shorter marriages, this doesn’t apply since the union must last at least ten years. No matter how many weddings you have, however, you can only collect one check. Sorry, you don’t receive four checks from four different marriages.
If your ex marries multiple times: Again, ten years is the magic number. If your marriage hits that mark, you can claim Social Security payments based on your ex’s history. No matter how many times your ex remarries, so long as a marriage lasts ten years, any former spouses qualify. It doesn’t matter how many there are, or if others also apply, you still meet the requirements.
Though it’s what most of us work towards, retirement is a tricky business made up of many pieces. And Social Security benefits are often an important one. Because they can have such a big impact on our future, it’s vital to know as much about them as possible. You may qualify to collect payments based on your ex’s employment history after divorce, and in some cases, that can provide a nice bonus.
As with most legal and retirement issue, things often become complicated. It’s probably in your best interest to consult an experienced professional in these matters