Social Security benefits and divorce

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Divorce on Monday, November 18, 2013.

Residents of Illinois who are divorced often have questions as to the effect that the dissolution of their marriage will have on their right to receive Social Security benefits. In actuality, a person who has gone through a divorce may be able to collect retirement benefits based upon the work record of his or her ex-spouse, assuming certain conditions are satisfied.

At the outset, divorced spouses must be unmarried and at least 62 years old, must have been married for at least 10 years and are not eligible for a higher benefit based upon their own work records. The ex-spouse must also be at least 62 years of age and eligible to receive Social Security benefits, although he or she does not have to be currently receiving them. If these conditions are met, the divorced spouse can collect up to 50 percent of the ex-spouse’s benefits, depending upon the age in which those benefits are first taken. Divorced spouse payments have no effect on the Social Security benefits that the ex-spouse is entitled to.

Divorced spouse benefits terminate when the recipient remarries. However, if the second marriage also ends in a divorce, the divorced spouse can resume receiving these amounts, and they will be based upon the work records of the ex-spouse who is entitled to the higher benefit.

Social Security also may pay survivor benefits to a divorced spouse upon the death of the ex-spouse if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. These can be up to 100 percent of the benefit that the ex-spouse would have received, and are payable to divorced spouses at least 60 years of age who have not remarried before that time.

Source: Huffington Post, “How Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security“, Jim T. Miller, November 11, 2013