How to Divide Social Security for Divorce

For most couples, Social Security benefits will be an essential source of income after retirement. One is entitled to receive the benefits provided that the divorced spouse meets certain requirements.


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    Retirement Benefits of Ex-Spouse

    It is important to understand the eligibility criteria on how to draw Social Security. A spouse will get benefits from the ex-spouse's Social Security contributions. These are usually called derivative benefits.

    However, in order to receive those benefits, you must be 62 years of age or older. However, it is important to note other implications. If you wish to draw Social Security at the age of 62, despite the fact that your retirement age is 67 (that is if you were born after 1960, the rules differ if you were born before that), then you will only be entitled to get partial payments. The rules further change if you are disabled, in which case you can draw money at 50.

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    Unmarried Marital Status

    It is important to note that if you remarry, then you will not be entitled to receive any benefits. However, if your second marriage also ends due to a divorce or death then you may be able to receive social security benefits on your ex-spouse’s work. Moreover, in order to qualify, your first marriage must last at least 10 years, and you should be 62, and the total amount must be lower than the benefits you will gain from your own Social Security. The latter condition has other implications as well, where the Social Security Administrator will combine your benefits with your ex-spouse’s and you will be able to receive the highest amount.

    If the ex-spouse is eligible for benefits but has not applied, you can get your contributions if the divorce period has exceeded 2 years. The rule will not be applicable in case the ex-spouse has already drawn on the benefits.

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    The calculations can be complex but for a general rule, if all above things are constant, you will be collecting half of your ex-spouse’s benefits. For instance, if the benefit amount is $500, and the retirement age is 67 then you will be getting $250. However, if you want to draw the benefits earlier, say aged 60, then you may be getting $200 or less. The rules won’t apply in cases of disability.

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    Contact the Social Security Administrator for the application procedure.

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