Social Security after Divorce

by Norris Law Group on September 23, 2014

Social Security after DivorceThe Social Security Administration is in charge of the distributing social security benefits to all eligible U.S. citizens. If you are in the process of getting a divorce or have already been divorced, you may want to know that you may be eligible to get social security benefits from your ex-spouse—or that your ex may be able to get your social security benefits.

If your marriage that lasted more than ten years, is possible that you could be the recipient of benefits on your former spouse’s Social Security record (even if he or she has gotten married again) if these criteria are met:

  • You are not married at this time (if you married after your divorce, that marriage be over);
  • You are age 62+;
  • Your former spouse qualifies for retirement or disability Social Security benefits and
  • your own Social Security benefit is lower than any benefit you would receive based on the record of your former spouse.

Your benefit would be half of your former spouse’s retirement or disability benefit, provided that you wait to receive benefits until your full retirement age, which depends upon your own birthdate (figure out your full retirement age here).

A few other things to know about Social Security benefits after a divorce:

  • If you get married again after divorcing (once, or multiple times), you cannot collect benefits on a former spouse’s record unless the later marriage ends.
  • If your ex-spouse has yet to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, but is qualified for them, you may also be eligible to get benefits based on your ex-spouse’s Social Security record if you have been divorced from that person for a minimum of two years.
  • If you have enough “credits” for retirement benefits on your own record, the Social Security Administration will pay you that first. But if your benefit based on your former spouse’s record is more than your own benefit, you will probably receive a combination of both benefits that comes to a higher amount (with a possible reduction based on your age). The combination would not include any delayed retirement credits your former spouse may receive.
  • If you reach your full retirement age and are qualified for your former spouse’s benefit in addition to your own benefit, you may choose to take only your ex’s benefit now and postpone taking your own retirement benefit until a later time. Such a strategy may ultimately result in your getting an increased benefit (if delayed retirement creditsare part of the equation).

More details are available in an SSA publication titled Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse.

Including a valid Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, in your divorce proceedings can also be a big help if and when the issue of retirement benefits after divorce may arise. Graham Norris is one of a very small number of attorneys with the experience and knowledge to draft QDRO’s for clients in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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