I've been fortunate that I haven't had to deal with too many clients getting divorced.
It can be a sticky situation, as their financial planner, it can be a bit awkward when you're caught in the middle.
Last year I had my first couple that informed that they were getting divorced.
We've had a quite of few back and forth meetings along the way, and recently the wife asked me regarding her social security benefits as the ex-spouse.
My response, “Uhhh….I don't know. But let me find out”
I then proceeded to relearn the social security benefit of a divorced spouse and, in the process, wrote this post about it.
If you are age 62 or older and divorced did you know you might be able to collect on your ex husband or wife's Social Security benefits? While there is a list of requirements you must meet, if you qualify you simply need to apply and be approved in order to start collecting.
Do You Qualify for Social Security Benefits under Your Ex-Spouse?
Eligibility requirements for collecting your Ex Spouses benefits include the following:
- You must be age 62 or older.
- You must have been lawfully married to your spouse for a minimum of ten years.
- You must be divorced for a minimum of two years.
- You cannot collect if you are remarried.
- Your Social Security benefits must be less than your spouse's.
- You will collect 50% of your spouse's entitled benefit.
- If your spouse has remarried you can still collect.
- Even if your ex spouse is not yet collecting you can still collect the benefit as long as you meet all of the requirements.
What If Your Ex Spouse is Deceased?
If your ex husband or wife is no longer living you can still collect on their benefits as long as you meet all of the above stated requirements with a few minor differences. The main difference is that you will be entitled to collect 100% of your ex spouses benefit if he/she is deceased. You will also be able to start collecting earlier at age 60.
More from GFC, Below
Mike Piper from ObliviousInvestor.com who writes a ton on Social Security (Ex. Social Security for Married Couples) adds, “but if you do claim at age 60, the amount you receive will be reduced.”
Special Circumstances to Consider
There are some special circumstances that you may need to consider. First, if you have been married and divorced more than once you can choose which ex spouse you want to collect on. As long as you meet all requirements on multiple ex spouses you will receive your social security benefit based on the highest collector.
Next, if your benefit is higher than your ex spouse's benefit you can delay collecting on your Social Security and collect on theirs instead. This can be very advantageous allowing your benefit to grow and pay out at a higher amount down the road. Delaying your benefit by just a few years can make a big difference. At any time you can make the switch to collecting on your benefit rather than your ex spouses'.
Everything Else About Social Security for Divorced Spouse
Finally, if you are planning to collect on your ex spouse's Social Security benefits here are some other things you will need to know.
- To apply for the benefit, you will need to supply both a marriage license and divorce decree.
- You can apply on line, by phone or in person at your local Social Security Office.
- If you continue to work while collecting on your spouse's benefits their earning limits will apply to you.
- If you are collecting a pension the amount of your benefit may be lower.
- Collecting on your ex spouse's Social Security will not cost your ex any money or alter what they are entitled to collect.
- If you did remarry but your new marriage has ended either due to your spouse's death, a divorce or an annulment you are entitled to collect on your ex's benefits. You can apply and collect benefits any time after your marriage has ended as long as you meet all other requirements.
To get some exact calculations on your social security benefits when divorced, I would suggest that you contact your local social security office. That way there's no question on how much your entitled to.