When people stress about their divorce, it’s unlikely that worries about their social security claims are at the top of their list, but if you are nearing retirement this an important part of the process. Knowing the smart way to claim your benefits can make a huge difference. Here’s a look at how it works.
Understanding Social Security and Divorce
You might not know that in some cases you can claim your ex-spouse’s social security benefits, if you meet the following requirements:
- You aren’t remarried.
- You are 62 or older.
- The marriage lasted for 10 or more years.
- Your former spouse is entitled to social security benefits.
- Your own social security benefits are lower than your ex-spouse’s.
To clarify some of the qualifications above, you can still collect your former spouse’s benefits after you remarry, just not during the marriage. If a subsequent marriage ends in divorce or annulment, you can still collect a previous spouse’s benefits if you meet the other qualifications.
It’s also important to note that some of the laws depend on your age. If you were born before January 2, 1954 and are at the retirement age, you can receive your ex’s benefits and delay receiving your own. If you are born after that date, however, you will not have that option.
For younger beneficiaries, filing for your ex-spouse’s benefits will automatically mean filing for your own. The only exception to the new rule is survivor benefits. If you or your ex dies, the other can claim social security survivor benefits while still delaying their own social security.
Understanding how social security works after a divorce can be a little confusing, but it’s too important not to do your research. Being strategic about your claim can go a long way towards a more comfortable retirement.