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Could divorce impact your Social Security benefits?

| Apr 19, 2021 | Divorce |

Most people in Topsfield plan to rely, at least in part, on Social Security benefits to fund their retirement. If spouses are married, generally each spouse will collect Social Security benefits based on their own work record, or if only one spouse worked, based on the working spouse’s record. However, what if a couple divorces? Can divorce impact their Social Security benefits?

Collecting Social Security benefits following divorce

As long as you were married for at least 10 years and then divorced, once you reach Full Retirement Age (66 or 67 depending on the year you were born) or later, have not remarried and do not qualify for Social Security benefits on your own work record, you will be granted 50% of your ex’s Primary Insurance Amount. However, if your benefits are more than 50% of your ex’s benefits, you will be granted your own benefits based on your work record. A person cannot receive both their own benefits and 50% of their ex’s benefits at the same time.

It is important to note that if you claim benefits based on your ex’s work record, it does not matter how old your ex is, as long as you have reached Full Retirement Age. Also, if your ex remarries, you can claim 50% of your ex’s benefits, as can your ex’s new spouse, as long as you are unmarried. Also, your ex will not know you are claiming benefits based on their record.

What if you have divorced more than once?

It is entirely possible these days that you may have married, divorced, remarried and then divorced again. How do multiple divorces affect your Social Security benefits? As long as each marriage lasted 10 years, if you have divorced twice, you can select the higher of your two ex’s benefits as long as you are still unmarried. However, you cannot collect benefits based on both your ex’s records. In addition, if you have been divorced for less than two years, you must wait until your ex claims benefits before you can claim benefits based on your ex’s record. And, as before, your ex will not know you are claiming benefits based on their record.

Learn more about divorce in Massachusetts

The issue of Social Security benefits following divorce is a complex one. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those who want more information on divorce in Massachusetts may find our firm’s website to be a useful resource.