Can You Collect Your Spouse’s Social Security After Divorce?

Can You Collect Your Spouse’s Social Security After Divorce?A divorced spouse who claims their benefit at least at Full Retirement Age (FRA) who doesn’t qualify for Social Security based on their own work record will receive 50% of the ex-spouse’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) provided they’re not remarried. Claiming earlier than FRA will result in a decreased benefit amount.

You cannot double dip when it comes to Social Security benefits. If you qualify for payments on your own work record and it is more than what your former spouse earned, your payments will be based on your work history and that’s all you can claim. Furthermore, if your former spouse chooses to claim before he or she reaches FRA but you choose to wait, your benefit amount will be calculated as if your spouse had waited until FRA. In other words, you won’t be penalized for your spouse choosing to take a lesser benefit amount if you wait until FRA to claim Social Security.

Who might qualify for Social Security benefits?

Currently, spouses who have not earned a Social Security retirement benefit or who would receive less than half the amount of the qualifying spouse are entitled to claim Social Security provided they have been married for at least 10 years.

What can affect my Social Security payments?

Remarriage is the biggest issue divorcees face when it comes to collecting on a former spouse’s Social Security. It is a financial decision some former spouses really need to weigh. If you were a stay at home spouse for the duration of your marriage and would not have qualified for Social Security on your own, choosing to remarry eliminates that income guarantee. You could claim Social Security benefits under your new spouse, however you would need to remain in that marriage for at least 10 years.

If you divorce or find someone new you want to share your life with, marriage could be a financial risk not worth taking if your former spouse was a high earner. You may opt to just live together and still leave yourself the ability to collect the 50% Social Security benefit.

Other special considerations that could affect your divorce planning include:

  • Remarriage after the age of 60 will not affect your ability to make a claim against your former spouse’s benefit.
  • Your new spouse also receives a divorced retirement benefit.
  • For those who have had multiple qualifying marriages, the spouse making the divorced benefits claim has the option of choosing the spouse with the benefit providing a higher payment provided the applicant is unmarried.
  • Applicants can only claim a 50% benefit from one former spouse.
  • A claimant whose divorce is less than two years old must wait until the qualifying spouse files for Social Security before collecting his or her divorced retirement benefit.
  • If the qualifying spouse dies, the divorced spouse then can receive the deceased spouse’s full benefit amount as long as no remarriage occurs before the age of 60.

It is important to note that if the former spouse with the qualifying work record remarries, it will not cut off your right to make a claim against his or her Social Security.

There are so many fine details to consider when it comes to pursuing a divorce that without the right legal advice, you may unintentionally place yourself into a detrimental position. Before you proceed, schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce planning attorney at the Rockville family law firm at McCabe Russell, P.A. by calling 443-917-3347, or feel free to reach out to us through our contact form.