• Social Security Rules on Divorce
  • December 13, 2017
  • What rights do you have to your partner’s Social Security payments after a divorce? The easy answer is that you must have been married for at least 10 years before the divorce for one partner to be able to claim any of an ex-spouse’s Social Security earnings. You must also be 62 years or older and unmarried. All Social Security rules are gender neutral and apply equally to a divorced man or woman.

    An ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security or disability benefits, and your own benefits from your work record must be less than what you would receive from your ex-spouse. If you have been divorced for at least two years, you may collect an ex-spouse’s benefits, even if the other person has not begun collecting them. If you are of full retirement age, you are eligible to receive 50 percent of what your ex-spouse would receive. Note that for those who opt to receive benefits before reaching full retirement age, they will be permanently reduced.

    Claiming Benefits When an Ex-Spouse is Deceased
    If your ex-spouse is deceased, you may still collect benefits. The same requirements apply to the length of the marriage of 10 years, and your own benefits may not be greater than what you would collect from your ex-spouse. Additionally, you must be aged 60 years or older and cannot have remarried until that age. If you are disabled, the age requirement reduces to 50 years. Anyone who remarries before age 60, or age 50, if disabled, cannot claim Social Security benefits from their deceased ex-spouse.

    Divorce and Remarriage
    If you divorce and remarry the same person, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is clear about the math for those wanting to collect spousal benefits. Even with a divorce in-between, if the total length of the two marriages was 10 years, and the remarriage happened in the calendar year following the divorce, then the SSA will recognize the combination of the two marriages as a 10-year period.

    In the case of multiple marriages and divorces, even when all the circumstances satisfy SSA rules, you cannot collect benefits from multiple ex-spouses. You can only collect from one ex-spouse. For someone who has had multiple divorces, any ex-spouse who meets the criteria for claiming benefits can receive them, regardless of which ex-spouse files first.

    Suspension of Benefits
    The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 introduced new rules for married couples and states that if you are at full retirement age, you can suspend benefits. This means, in most cases, that no one can collect benefits on your record and you cannot collect from another person’s either. However, there is an exception to the new rule which prevents the suspension of benefits to punish an ex-spouse. You can continue to collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record even if the ex-spouse decides to suspend benefits.

    Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Counsel to Divorced Retirees
    If you are retired and considering a divorce, talk to a Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC so that you can be financially prepared for what is ahead. Our lawyers provide personal attention to each of our clients and will work diligently to resolve your legal matters quickly and reasonably. Call 443-589-0150 to schedule a confidential consultation or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the greater Baltimore area.