Social Security and Divorce – Some FAQs

One question that family lawyers answer most frequently is “what happens to the social security benefits after the split?” 

Who can collect social security benefits?

You should be at least 62 years old and married to the same person for at least a decade. You should not have remarried. Your personal benefits should be less than the ex-spouse’s benefits. You should be eligible for the benefits. You are eligible for them if your ex-spouse is remarried.

If you did not work, you can receive social security benefits on the earnings of your ex-spouse. Furthermore, if you have been divorced for two or more years, you can collect benefits even if your ex has not applied for them, provided he or she qualifies for them.

How much money can you collect?

You get 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s social security benefits if you collect at your full retirement age, which is 66 years of age. If you collect sooner, you get lesser amount.

If you have benefits from your own earnings, you receive higher of the two. You cannot collect both yours and your ex-spouse’s benefits.

Remarriage considerations

If you marry and divorce for a second time, you are eligible to receive benefits of the ex-spouse who has larger benefits, provided you have been married for at least ten years in both the cases.

If that ex-spouse dies, you can collect 100 percent of his or her social security benefits. This is called Survivor Benefits.

Your attorney can give you all the details about the regulations in family law regarding social security provisions after divorce.