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Divorce and Social Security

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Divorce |

Social Security benefits are important for retirees in Florida and other states. For people who divorced their spouses, the picture for claiming Social Security benefits is a little more complex. A marriage that lasts 10 years or more can change which Social Security benefits are available.

Spousal benefits

Most people know that their Social Security benefits depend to some extend on their spouse’s income, but they might not know exactly how it works. The most important figure in receiving benefits based on a spouse’s work record is the marriage length: It must last 10 years or longer. If the divorce happens before 10 years, their spouse won’t qualify. But after 10 years, ex-spouses are entitled to claim their ex’s work history when they file for benefits. They are also entitled to claim survivor’s benefits if the ex passes away. These benefits go away if the person filing remarries.

Notifying the SSA

The size of the benefit increase can be very substantial. However, the Social Security Administration generally does not track this kind of divorcee benefit, so it is up to each party to notify the SSA when they file that they were married for 10 years before divorcing and wish to claim their ex’s work history. That also extends to claiming survivor’s benefits if the ex-spouse passes away. The SSA will typically not do the legwork on behalf of the parties who are filing for benefits.

This is a little-known aspect of Social Security benefits, but it’s an important one to understand for divorcing couples. Individuals who are ending their marriage may want to take these benefits into account when planning for retirement.