Nov 19

Divorce and Social Security Benefits

Divorce and Social Security Benefits
You may be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouses record if:
– You were married at least ten years prior to the divorce
– You have not remarried or are 62 or older and have remarried
If you do qualify, you have a number of options. Your decision as to which option to choose will include an analysis of the level of benefits you would receive on your own record at your full retirement age, your former spouse’s record, or collecting on your former spouse’s record while you delay receipt of benefits on your record until you reach age 70.
If you delay receipt of benefits on your record, those benefits continue to grow 8% per year to your age 70. In addition, if you reached your full retirement age, you could continue to work while delaying benefits on your record and collect those on your former spouse’s record.
Just as is the case with accessing benefits on your own record before your full retirement age, a benefit based on your former spouses’ record will be reduced if you begin receiving those benefits before your full retirement age. If you were married at least ten years before the divorce, it is important that you check with a representative of the Social Security Administration to discuss your options.
When you do speak with a representative, there are several documents that you will need in order to establish your entitlement to benefits. One of the documents is the Judgment of Divorce. Therefore, it is very important that you retain a copy of the divorce judgment. You cannot depend on your attorney having a copy in his or her file or getting a copy from the court’s records years after the divorce is granted. Many attorneys have a policy of destroying files after a certain number of years and, unfortunately, files can be lost or impossible to find easily. The very best way to protect this option for yourself is to retain the copy you are provided when the divorce is granted.
More information about this option can be found at the Social Security Administration website.