Are you headed for
divorce? If you have been married for nearly 10 years, you may want to give some
thought as to “when” you divorce, especially if your spouse
earns significantly more money than you.
When couples decide to divorce, they need to take a lot of factors into
account, such as the children’s summer break (may be a better time
to file for divorce), the holidays, taxes, and for those selling their
homes, the best time of year to sell a house.
Another matter to consider is how the length of a marriage affects Social
You may not be aware of it but divorced spouses can receive a spousal benefit
so long as their marriage lasted 10 years. So, if you’re planning
on divorcing near the 10-year mark, delaying the process a few months
could mean thousands of more dollars of Social Security benefits on your
spouse’s earnings record, providing they are more than your own.
When it comes to divorce, Social Security and retirement planning, you
want to pay close attention to the details, especially if you’re
divorcing in your ninth year of marriage.
Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouses
According to the
Social Security Administration, when a couple divorces, an ex-spouse can collect benefits based on their
ex’s record, even if their ex remarries if:
- Their marriage lasted at least 10 years
- The person who wishes to collect is not married
- The applicant is 62-years-of-age or older
- The benefit the ex-spouse is entitled to on their own work record is less
than the benefit on their ex’s record, and
- The ex-spouse of the applicant is entitled to receive disability or Social
Security retirement benefits.
For example, if an ex-husband (even if he is remarried) has not applied
for retirement benefits, but he would qualify for them, his ex-wife is
entitled to benefits on his work record as long as the pair have been
divorced for at least two years.
In this scenario, if the ex-wife was eligible for retirement benefits on
her own record, the SSA would pay her that amount first.
If the benefit on her ex-husband’s work record was more, she’d
receive the additional amount on her record. This way, the total combination
of benefits she receives equals the higher dollar amount.
Note: If you were born on January 2, 1954 or later, your option to take just
one of the benefits at full retirement age no longer applies. If you decide
to file for one benefit, you will be filing for all retirement or spousal
benefits. Ask us about these recent changes.
Essentially, if a couple decides to divorce just shy of their 10-year anniversary,
the timing of the divorce can deny one of the spouses – husband
or wife – thousands of dollars in divorced spouse benefits.
If you are considering divorce or remarriage, you want a divorce attorney
to explain all of the ramifications, including how Social Security could
To learn more about divorce and how its timing impacts Social Security
contact Claery & Green, LLP for a free case evaluation.