When Texas residents seek a gray divorce while approaching or in retirement, they face unique challenges. For example, if you are going through a gray divorce, you will need to consider the effect the divorce will have on your Social Security benefits.
At the time of your divorce, you should consider the potential income stream you could recover through Social Security benefits. It is also crucial that you understand the consequences of getting remarried after your divorce. Rules about social security benefits are complex. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your Social Security benefits.
How Will My Divorce Impact My Social Security Payments?
Family courts cannot divide Social Security benefits between divorcing parties. Social Security benefits are not considered marital assets and cannot be negotiated in mediation according to federal law. When a marriage lasts at least 10 years, the divorce decree cannot state that one spouse relinquishes his or her rights to Social Security benefits through their ex-spouse’s record.
However, many individuals pursuing a gray divorce can qualify for benefits based on their soon-to-be ex-spouses earning history. For example, when one spouse earned significantly less income during the marriage than the other spouse, the lower-earning spouse may still be entitled to Social Security benefits.
How Much Social Security Will a Divorced Spouse Get?
The Social Security Administration clearly states that the same payment rolls apply to divorced spouses and current spouses. At the same time, a divorced spouse must meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify for social security benefits from a former spouse. A divorced spouse may be able to receive up to 50% of the amount your ex-spouse would collect at his or her full retirement age.
The full retirement age depends on the year the taxpayer was born, ranging from 65 to 67. The age at which a person starts Social Security benefits factors into the amount he or she will receive. Your monthly funds will probably be reduced if you have not reached your full retirement age. The actual payment amount to the Lesser in a spouse will be made up of the spouse’s personal benefit plus a percentage of benefits based on their ex-spouse’s record to reach the higher amount.
Eligibility Requirements for Receiving Social Security From an Ex-Spouse
As an ex-spouse, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse when you meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Your marriage lasted at least 10 years
- You are unmarried
- You are at least 62 years old
- Your former spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits
Additionally, you are entitled to benefits through your work record. The amount you are entitled to must be less than the amount you would receive based on your former spouse’s record. Generally, Social Security pays a higher benefit amount.
What if My Ex-Spouse Has Not Applied for Benefits Yet?
If you are ready to apply for Social Security benefits, but your ex-spouse has not applied for benefits yet, you may still be able to receive payments on your ex-spouse’s record. You will need to show that your ex-spouse can qualify for benefits, is at least 62 years old, and that you have been divorced for at least two years.
Delayed retirement credits, which are an increase in Social Security benefits for someone who delays retirement past the full retirement age, are not included in Social Security benefits based on a former spouse’s record. However, if you have already reached retirement age and are qualified to receive your former spouse’s benefits, you may elect to receive the former spouse’s benefits. In doing so, you will delay your retirement and receipt of your benefits. A retirement delay could allow your personal benefits to catch up or even go beyond the spousal benefits you are currently receiving.
Social Security Benefits After an Ex-Spouse Dies
If the ex-spouse passes away, the other spouse may be entitled to survivor benefits. These benefits are also called death benefits. The survivor needs to show that their marriage lasted at least ten years, they are currently unmarried, and they are aged 60. If the Survivor is disabled, they must show they are at least 50 years old.
Social Security Benefits and Remarriage After a Divorce
If you currently receive Social Security benefits through your ex-spouses work record, getting remarried will stop those benefits. If you divorce again, you could be allowed to restart receiving those benefits.
Qualifying for Medicare
An ex-spouse may be able to qualify for Medicare under their former spouse’s work record if they are eligible for social security benefits under the same work record. In most cases, the spouse needs to be at least age 65. However, disabled widowers or widows who are divorced and under age 65 and disabled children may be eligible for Medicare after a certain qualifying period.
Maximizing Your Retirement Benefits After a Divorce
Social Security and divorce rules are complicated, but understanding them is essential. Going through a divorce as you approach retirement or are in retirement can be confusing. Developing a financial strategy that includes obtaining as many Social Security benefits as possible can help you significantly. It is crucial to analyze your options related to Social Security payments you could be entitled to as a divorced spouse.
The age at which you apply for benefits and whether you use your ex-spouse’s or your work record will make a difference. For example, if your ex-spouse keeps working while receiving benefits, the excess earnings limitation could apply to you and reduce the amount you receive. There may be exceptions to the rules that will make a difference in the amount you receive.
Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Divorce Attorney
The attorneys at Divorce Concierge are here to help. We provide effective, affordable legal representation for Texas residents pursuing uncontested divorces. We will answer all of your questions and develop a winning strategy. Contact Divorce Concierge today to schedule a free initial consultation.