Will My Divorce Affect Social Security?

submitted by Sharon Brewer

Divorces happen for many reasons, and the financial aftermath is almost always confusing. In particular, many people wonder how their new status will affect social security. If you’re nearing retirement, this question becomes even more important, especially if your financial freedom depends on that income.  

This anxiety is understandable, but it's not an emotion anyone should experience for very long. So here's what you need to know about social security if you’re going through a divorce.  

Length of Marriage 

The length of your former marriage will impact social security. If you were married for at least 10 years, you haven't remarried and you’re at least 62, you are eligible for spousal benefits. Whether your ex-spouse has remarried or is still single, you can receive 50% of their social security. 

In addition, your former spouse can also collect these benefits if they meet the same criteria. However, this not impact your social security or those of any new spouse.  

What About Remarriage? 

If you remarry, you usually no longer can earn divorce benefits. However, if your former spouse dies, or your new marriage ends with death, divorce or annulment, you are again eligible.  

Other Limitations 

While you may be eligible for divorce benefits, the Social Security Administration will consider your work record first. You will receive the maximum amount possible, whether because of your own contributions or because of your ex-spouse.  

For example, because of your work record, you might be eligible for $1,500 per month. However, through the spousal benefit, you could also collect $1,000 (50 percent of your ex's benefit). In that situation, the Social Security Administration, will pay you the higher of the two amounts, but not both.  

Even if your former spouse has not yet filed for social security, you can begin receiving those benefits if you have been divorced for at least two years. 

Need Help? 

How-to guides are helpful, but sometimes personal assistance is better. To make sure you receive the maximum amount of social security, schedule a meeting today with one of our financial advisors serving the greater Atlanta area.