Divorce and Social Security

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2021 | Divorce |

Millions of retirees in Kentucky and around the country rely on Social Security benefits to help them make ends meet. Social Security benefits are based on payroll deductions, but many of the retirees who receive them never worked or paid taxes. This is because non-working spouses are entitled to claim benefits based on the contributions made by their husbands or wives, and this is sometimes true even if they are divorced.

Social Security rules for divorcees

Divorcees are entitled to Social Security benefits based on their former spouses’ contributions as long as they were married for at least 10 years and have been divorced for at least two years. They must also be at least 62 years of age and not remarried. If you have been divorced for less than two years, you could still be entitled to Social Security payments if your former spouse is already receiving retirement benefits. The amount divorced spouses receive is based largely on how long they wait to file a claim. If they wait until they reach the full retirement age for their year of birth, they receive half of the benefits their former husbands or wives are paid. If they choose to file a claim at the age of 62, they receive about half of this amount.

Working and non-working spouses

If a person who works and pays taxes gets a divorce, the Social Security benefits they receive when they retire may be based on both their contributions and the contributions made by their former spouses. However, the payment made by former spouses are only considered when doing so would increase the monthly benefit. When divorcees claim Social Security benefits based on their former spouses’ earnings, it does not affect the amount their former husbands or wives receive.

Social Security and subsequent marriages

Divorcees who are nearing retirement age should think carefully before remarrying. This is because the Social Security Administration does not pay ex-spouse benefits to remarried individuals unless their new spouse dies or the marriage ends in divorce. Social Security was implemented to make sure that Americans can enjoy their retirement years in comfort, and the rules dealing with ex-spouses were put into place to protect people who sacrificed careers to raise families.