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Social Security spousal benefits and divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Divorce

If you’re divorcing in your 60s, you’re not alone. Increasingly, older couples who’ve been together for many years are deciding that they want to spend the next chapter of their lives doing very different things. 

As you work out your divorce agreements, you’ll want to focus on your financial security. You likely expected to have two incomes and eventually two sets of retirement benefits. Now, you’ll want to ensure that you get a property settlement that gives you the assets you need to live comfortably.

One area of concern for many older divorcing people is Social Security. You and your soon-to-be ex will still receive the retirement benefits due to you based on your individual work records by your full retirement age.

You’ve also likely heard about Social Security spousal benefits. These benefits can total no more than half of their spouse’s retirement benefits (and, it should be noted, they take nothing away from what that spouse still receives in benefits). 

Will you qualify for spousal benefits after divorce?

You may still be able to claim these benefits even after you divorce as long as:

However, if your own Social Security retirement benefits based on your work record are greater than the amount you’d receive if you took spousal benefits, you’d get only your benefits. Social Security pays the larger of the two amounts.

Social Security spousal benefits originated back when most married women didn’t have jobs outside the home. Therefore, spousal benefits could help them in their later years. Now, most women’s own retirement benefits are considerably higher than their spousal benefits would be. That’s why they aren’t claimed as often. 

However, everyone’s situation is different. Therefore, if you were out of the workforce for a time or your spouse always out-earned you by a significant amount, it’s wise to determine which benefits would be greater. This is just one reason why it’s important to have sound legal and financial guidance if you’re divorcing at a time when you need to ensure that your future is financially secure.