How to Share in Your Ex-Spouse’s Social Security Benefits
As a divorced individual you can share in your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, as long as you have been married for at least 10 years, and your ex has earned benefits. If this is the case in your situation, your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits can be an important part of your current or retirement income. Your ex-spouse will not be notified if you sign up for benefits based on their work history. Likewise, if you are widowed or a widower, Social Security survivor benefits can be an important part of your current or retirement income.
Here is how each works:
Spousal Social Security benefits – If your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits are greater than 100% of your own work history benefits, you can collect up to 50% of their benefits, as long as your ex-spouse is at least 62. You must also be at least 62 to begin receiving spousal Social Security. To maximize your benefits, you may want to wait until you turn 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born. Unlike the benefits that you earn from your own work history, waiting until you are 70 does not increase the monthly amount you receive. Collecting spousal benefits does not impact your ex’s benefits. Your ex will still receive their full benefits.
Your spousal Social Security benefits can begin as soon as your divorce is final, if your ex has already started taking Social Security. If your ex is not yet taking Social Security benefits, you’ll need to wait two years after your divorce is final. If you should remarry, your spousal benefits will stop.
Survivor Social Security benefits – As long as you had been married for at least 10 years, when your ex-spouse dies, you can begin receiving survivor benefits at age 60. Rather than receiving 50% of your ex’s work history benefits, as in spousal benefits, you can receive 100% of their benefits. If you are disabled, your survivor benefits can start at age 50. If you are already receiving 50% spousal Social Security benefits, your monthly amount will increase to 100% survivor benefits, when your ex-spouse dies. If you remarry after age 60, you will still be eligible for survivor benefits.
Contact me for assistance
Social Security rules around divorce, along with other divorce-related financial considerations, can be complicated. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney with a Master of Laws in Taxation, please contact my office for a consultation.
Attorney Christina Sherman is a Marin County CA family law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, specializing in divorce, child custody and support, marital contracts and other family law issues.
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