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Collecting Social Security after a divorce

Sometimes a married couple will spend decades together, only to find later in life that their union is no longer working out and it is best that they divorce. Couples who are nearing retirement or who are already retired may worry about their finances after they divorce. These finances could include their Social Security benefits. If you were married to your former spouse for at least ten years and you remain unmarried, you may be eligible for a portion of Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record.

Will taking my share reduce my ex-spouse’s share in benefits?

The good news for both you and your ex-spouse is that claiming benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record will not affect how much your ex-spouse receives in benefits. If your ex-spouse has remarried, their new spouse’s benefits will also remain unaffected.

What if my divorce decree says otherwise?

Sometimes a person’s divorce decree states that one spouse cannot claim benefits on their ex-spouse’s work record. However, if the couple was married for at least ten years, these types of clauses cannot be enforced. You also do not need your ex-spouse’s permission to collect benefits on their work record. In fact, the Social Security Administration will not even contact your ex-spouse. That being said, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration with any information needed to locate your former spouse’s record.

When can I start collecting these benefits?

In order to collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record, your ex-spouse needs to be eligible for Social Security benefits. This means that they must have put in ten years of full-time work and are at least 62 years old. If your ex-spouse qualifies, you do not need to wait for them to start claiming benefits, and you can apply to claim your share as long as you have met all of the rules and have been divorced for at least two years.

What if my ex-spouse earned more than me?

You do not need to choose between claiming benefits based on your work record and claiming benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will be eligible for whichever is greater: yours or your ex-spouse’s. Your benefits will still max out at your full retirement age.

Learn more about divorce in Utah

The financial aspects of divorce are especially pertinent to older couples who are planning for retirement or who are on a fixed income. This post is for informational purposes and does not offer legal advice. Those who want to learn more about divorce in Utah are invited to explore our firm’s website for further information.

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