Your Orlando Divorce and Social Security

February 4, 2014 by

Can you collect on your ex’s retirement benefits?

If a couple divorces in Florida, is a spouse entitled to their ex-spouse’s Social Security retirement benefits? Depending on certain restrictions – the answer is often Yes.

Social Security retirement funds are the main source of income for many of Orlando’s unmarried retirees. However, because many people are simply unaware of their rights, the question of how a past marriage can affect a senior citizen’s finances in retirement is not asked frequently enough.

Statements sent out by the Social Security Administration contain detailed information about a person’s estimates for retirement benefits. What the statements do not include is any information about the impact that divorce has regarding spousal benefits.

But this issue is vital to our older clients. Social Security benefits after a divorce can have a big influence on a divorced retiree. Also affected are those over age 62 who are divorced but continue to work and their ex-spouse is retirement age.

10 Tips You Need to Know about Divorce and Social Security

  1. If you were married for 10 years and are now divorced, have not remarried, and are 62 years old or older, you may claim spousal benefits. This assumes that your ex-spouse was paying Social Security taxes during that time. Your ex-spouse must also be at least 62 years old.
  2. The amount of spousal benefits equals 1/2 of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount if you begin collecting benefits at full retirement age.
  3. If you and your ex-spouse both worked, you would not claim both spousal and personal benefits — the lower income earner may opt to receive benefits based on the higher earner’s record.
  4. The Government Pension Offset provision will generally reduce spousal benefits for government employees.
  5. If you have been married/divorced more than once, and each marriage lasted at least 10 years, you will likely be able to obtain Social Security benefits based on either ex-spouse’s work record — whichever pays the higher benefits.
  6. If you remarry prior to turning 60, you are no longer eligible to collect on an ex-spouse’s benefits.
  7. As with your personal Social Security income, the longer you wait to apply for an ex-spouse’s benefits, the higher that income amount will be.
  8. The amount of benefits your divorced spouse receives does not affect the amount of benefits you or your current spouse may receive.
  9. As with your personal Social Security benefits, you must apply for spousal benefits — they are not distributed automatically.
  10. You may continue to work while receiving spousal benefits under the same requirements as for receiving personal benefits.

If you divorce, do you have a strategy in place for Social Security?

The Social Security Administration website has all the facts about Social Security benefits and divorce, as well as survivor’s benefits. Divorced widows may even have more options. Many details and requirements surround each of these issues, and everyone’s situation is unique and should be fully examined by an experienced attorney.

At Kramer Law, we advise all clients who approach retirement age about the impact of Social Security and divorce. To make sure your benefits are properly handled to meet your retirement plans and goals, discuss the process with an Orlando divorce attorney today. Call 855-Kramer-Now (855-572-6376) for a free and informative consultation.

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