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Understanding Social Security and spousal benefits after divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2020 | Social Security

Baby boomers in Georgia and around the country experience higher divorce rates than any other generational group. Because of their age at the time of divorce, the financial implications can be catastrophic. There is not as much time for individuals to work and increase their financial standing after a divorce, and retirement and Social Security benefits become even more important to protect. While interpreting the workings of Social Security benefits can be complex, there are many incorrect beliefs that can sometimes cause recipients to make poor planning decisions.

Social Security facts

One of the most common myths about Social Security related to family law and divorce is that you are unable to claim Social Security benefits on an ex-spouse’s earnings record because it was disallowed in the divorce settlement. This is incorrect as Social Security has its own set of rules and regulations that will supersede the directives of the divorce agreement. For clarity, it is a good idea to contact the Social Security Administration in order to know your rights.

Furthermore, if you were married to your spouse for at least 10 years, you are most likely eligible to draw Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s earnings. This would also include survivor’s benefits. This is typically true even if your former spouse is remarried, and the benefits would not be divided among spouses.

Rules about remarrying

You are not allowed to claim benefits on your ex-spouse if you remarried before you turned 60 and are still married. However, if you remarried after age 60, you may be able to claim Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse. For example, if you remarried after age 60, you could be entitled to a higher widower benefit if applicable.

Know your rights

If you are going through a divorce, it may be a good idea to speak to an experienced family law attorney to understand your Social Security eligibility. An attorney may help you find an amicable financial settlement while protecting the assets of all involved.