Posted by Tiffany Gaskin

Divorced and its Effect on Your Social Security Benefits

Divorced and its Effect on Your Social Security Benefits

A lot of factors determine the value one will get as Social Security benefits. A few of these are the age of claiming, whether you are still working after claiming the benefits, the value of what you earned in the year you paid Social Security. 

Many people, however, easily overlook divorce. For people who are divorced when married for ten years or more, either partner could earn more social security benefits. 


Effect of Divorce on Social Security 

All divorced couples do not qualify for additional benefits after claiming Social Security. There are other requirements one must meet. 

Firstly, you must consider and compare your benefits to your ex-spouse. Those getting more benefits compared to their ex-spouse do not qualify for extra money every month. However, if what you get each month is lower than your spouse's, your ex-spouse's work record might be eligible for increased benefits. 

If your benefit is less than your ex, you will need to meet other requirements. For instance, your marriage to your spouse must be 10 years at least, and you must be single. Also, you should be 62 years old to claim the benefits. 

Assuming you and your partner are old and mature enough for the benefits, and your ex is yet to claim them, there is the opportunity to claim the benefit if the divorced is over two years. Also, if you qualify for benefits judging by your work history, you will be paid. Also, if your ex-spouse's record allows you, you will get extra payment every month. 

The age you claim is what determines what you get as extra payment. You can get the total amount you are entitled to, provided you can wait till full retirement age – 66½. Claiming before then will reduce your benefit. 

If you wait till the full retirement age, provided you qualify for some benefits judging by your ex-spouse's records, you qualify for half of the funds your ex will collect on getting to the full age of retirement.

Finally, one needs to remember that no matter the value of the funds you get judging by your ex-partner's record, it does not affect what the person or their current spouse will benefit from. 


A Hypothetical Example of Social Security in Action 

Calculating taxes and benefits can be pretty confusing, so it's not surprising that estimating your benefits based on an ex-spouse's record could be overwhelming. Here is an example that will shed light on it.

Let us assume that you were married for 25 years and you were single after the divorce. Your full retirement age is 66.5, and you got $1500 per month, judging by your earning and work record. At the moment, your ex-husband is currently getting $3,500 in benefit when he claimed at the full retirement age. Since you were married for over ten years, and you are currently single, you can get less in benefit compared to your ex-spouse. You also qualify for benefits using the records of your ex-spouse.

Assuming you waited till full retirement age before claiming, you will get the whole $2000 that you qualify for. Judging by the records of your ex-spouse, you qualify for half of what he's getting or $1750 per month. There is no provision to get your benefit ($1500) together with your ex-spouse's benefit ($1750). You will, however, get your $1500 plus an extra $250 per month, which makes your entire benefit equal to half of your ex-spouse. 

Every social security restriction applies here as well. For instance, claiming when you are not at the full retirement age will reduce your benefit. Also, there might be a temporary reduction if you work after claiming the deductions. 

Social security benefits might appear complex, with many factors contributing to what you will receive every month. An excellent way to maximize your earning is to understand what you qualify for and whether you can apply for extra benefits.


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Tiffany Gaskin
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