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Social Security and Utah divorce -- is an ex-spouse eligible?

Couples in Utah who are divorcing have numerous issues to resolve before they go their separate ways. One issue that many couples who are close to retirement fail to consider is Social Security. Even if a divorce is final years before one or both parties are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, knowing what will happen when the time comes could affect settlement negotiations.

The first thing to consider is the length of the marriage. The Social Security Administration requires that a couple be married a minimum of 10 years before an ex-spouse is able to obtain benefits based on the work record of the other ex-spouse. If a party remarries, he or she is no longer eligible for benefits with regard to the first spouse's employment history. However, it only takes one year of marriage to become eligible under the work record of the second spouse. If a subsequent marriage lasts 10 years, it may be possible to receive Social Security payments from any spouse with whom the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

Ordinarily, the higher payment is the one received. However, a divorce has to be final for a minimum of two years before payments can begin. In addition, the ex-spouse through whom benefits will be received does not have to be receiving benefits -- he or she only has to be eligible for them. Other rules regarding the receipt of Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse exist. Understanding the rules and the system is crucial to receiving the maximum amount of benefits available.

When considering asset division and/or alimony in a divorce settlement, it may be helpful to consider how Social Security benefits may apply. Every Utah couple wants a fair and equitable settlement. Making sure that every factor is considered before coming to an agreement can help with that.

Source: Fox Business, "5 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Social Security Benefits", May 13, 2014

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