Many people understand the basic requirements for receiving Social Security benefits from a former spouse. Simply put, you have to have been married for at least 10 years to receive any benefits and they must meet the required age. But like most aspects of the law, what seems simple on the surface is anything but when you dive into it. Social Security regulations are not necessarily clear about whether those 10 years actually have to be consecutive, and then there is the issue of what happens if your former spouse dies at a young age.
Matters are further complicated when it comes to using a former spouse’s Social Security benefits to maximize your own in retirement. These are important issues to keep in mind if you are approaching retirement and planning to divorce, or if you have contributed less to Social Security than your former spouse.
Collecting a Former Spouse’s Social Security Benefits
Under federal law, you are entitled to collect one-half of a former spouse’s Social Security benefits if you were married at least 10 years, have been divorced for at least two years, reach the age of 62, are unmarried, and the benefits you would receive are less than what your ex will receive. It is irrelevant whether your ex remarries at this point.
It is also important to note that that the 10-year rule does not apply if you are married at least nine months at the time your spouse dies. Additionally, if you divorce your spouse and then re-marry in the same calendar year, the two marriages can be tacked together to reach 10 years.
Maximizing your Social Security Benefits After a Divorce
The Social Security Administration allows for “restricted filing” which can greatly increase the benefits that you receive from both your own retirement and your former spouse’s benefits by claiming both. How this works is when you reach age 66, you can claim your ex’s Social Security, and begin receiving monthly benefits.
As you receive this money, your own Social Security benefits continue to grow, so when you reach age 70, you can begin receiving your own, significantly higher monthly benefit. If you have had two marriages that lasted at least 10 years, but are single at retirement age, you may take whichever benefit is higher between your former spouses.
Contact a Rolling Meadows Divorce Attorney Today
It can be difficult to get along financially following a divorce. Spousal support is one way to maintain your standard of living once you are single, but there are other options available under the law as well. However, it can require the help of an experienced Illinois family law attorney to fully understand what benefits you are entitled to. Contact Attorney Susan A. Marks at SAM Law Office, LLC in Rolling Meadows today for a free consultation about how spousal support and Social Security benefits can be collected following a divorce.