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What to Know About Social Security Benefits in a Divorce

Social security benefits are not assets that can be divided by a divorce court when you and your spouse split. However, it is still important to understand the influence these benefits will have on your income after your divorce, and how they could affect your negotiations.

Here are a couple circumstances in which you will need to more carefully consider Social Security benefits.

Marriage of 10 years or longer and age of 62 or older

If you are 62 or older and have been married at least 10 years, you are allowed to collect retirement benefits on your ex’s Social Security record, and doing so will not reduce their benefits. This is particularly beneficial for people who were not working during the marriage.

You might be able to get as much as 50 percent of your former spouse’s benefit in this manner.

You can start receiving retirement benefits at age 62 on your own Social Security record or your former spouse’s record, then switch to the other when you reach full retirement—a good strategy if the other benefit is higher. After two years of divorce you will also be entitled to benefits via your former spouse even if they are eligible but not yet receiving their benefits.

When your ex passes away

You may be eligible for survivor benefits of up to 100 percent of your former spouse’s Social Security benefit. To qualify, you must be at least 60 years old, have been married for at least 10 years, and not be entitled to retirement benefits equal to or greater than your ex’s benefits.

To learn more about the impact of Social Security benefits after a divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.