Should you be taking advantage of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

Thirty or more years ago, divorce wasn’t as common among individuals age 50 and older. Today, however, research indicates that, between 1990 and 2010, the divorce rate among this age demographic doubled. With retirement on the horizon, these so-called gray divorcees must be strategic and work to maximize income and savings.

In cases where an individual’s ex-spouse was the main breadwinner, the financial implications of a divorce may be especially apparent. Whether an individual stayed home to raise children or chose a career that wasn’t as monetarily rewarding, disparities in income between spouses also impact each individual’s Social Security payouts during retirement.

Thankfully, in cases where 50 percent of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits amount equates to more than an individual’s full amount, he or she may be able to claim divorced spouse benefits on an ex’s record. In order to qualify to claim benefits under an ex’s record, a marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years. Additionally, an individual must be at least 62 years old and an ex-spouse must also be of a qualifying age.

Claiming Social Security under an ex-spouse’s record does not impact the benefit amount that he or she receives. Additionally, an individual who meets the qualifying criteria can claim Social Security under an ex-spouse’s record even if an ex is remarried. It’s important to note, however, that an individual cannot claim benefits on an ex-spouse’s record if that individual remarries.

To maximize and increase Social Security benefits, an individual may also elect to claim benefits under an ex-spouse’s record at age 62 and delay taking his or her own retirement benefits until a later date. As is the case whenever claiming benefits, there are earnings restrictions so individuals who plan to continue to work would be wise to ensure they don’t jeopardize their eligibility.

Source: Fox Business, “Social Security & Divorce: Timing IS Everything!,” Gail Buckner, Jan. 11, 2016

Social Security Administration, “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced,” March 22, 2016

Time, “Don’t Let Divorce Derail Your Retirement,” Carla Fried, March 3, 2016

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