Social Security Retirement Benefits and Divorce

Mesa Divorce LawyerSocial Security retirement benefits are an important issue in your divorce.  Whether or not you will be entitled to obtain benefits through your ex when you retire will have an important impact on your retirement planning.  You are not automatically entitled to receive payments through your former spouse. You must have been married for at least ten years to qualify for benefits.  If you meet that qualification, you can collect only if all of the following are true:

  • You are unmarried at the time you seek benefits (if you did remarry but are divorced or widowed, then you qualify)
  • You are age 62 or above
  • Your former spouse qualifies to collect Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • The Social Security retirement benefits you would collect from your own work history is less than the amount you are entitled to through your former spouse

If you can check off all four of these conditions, then you may collect up to one half of the benefits your ex is entitled to. If you are eligible for benefits based on your own work history, but your ex’s benefits are higher, the Social Security Administration will pay your earned benefits first and then add additional amounts based on your ex’s benefits.  If your ex is eligible for Social Security payments but has not yet applied, you can apply once you have been divorced for two years.

You may be surprised to learn that any payments you receive based on your former spouse’s benefits do not come out of his or her benefits or reduce the amount he or she receives. You ex will receive the full amount of his or her retirement whether you receive benefits based on that or not. If your ex remarried after you divorced, both you and that spouse can collect without affecting each other’s benefits.

If your Social Security benefits will be higher than your ex’s, he or she is entitled to collect benefits through you as described above.

The Sampair Group represents clients in divorce and family law cases in the Phoneix, Mesa, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Call us today to schedule an appointment.