Social Security Considerations After Divorce

Jun 18, 2019

Before making an election on your Social Security benefits it’s important to know what your options are. Make sure you seek advice and do your own research. For most people seeking benefits now, their election will be permanent. Did you know if you are divorced you are entitled to your ex-spouse’s security benefits? Most people are unaware that notwithstanding a divorce they may be entitled to their ex-spouse's Social Security benefit. If you were married for at least 10 years and then divorce, and are unmarried at the time you apply for your benefits, you are entitled to half of your ex-spouse's benefit if it is greater than your own.  However, if you were born after 1954, whatever election you make will be permanent and cannot be changed.   This does not affect your ex-spouse's benefit nor is your election affected by their remarriage. In fact, if you are eligible, you can collect on your ex-spouse’s benefits even if he or she hasn't yet applied for them, so long as you’ve been divorced for at least two years.

However, if you are remarried at the time of your election, you are not entitled to  your ex-spouse’s benefits. You may, however, be able to collect your new spouse’s benefits if you’re at least 62 years of age and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits. It’s also important to know if you chose to collect early you will lose a significant portion of your benefit. In the event your new marriage ends due to death, divorce, or annulment, you may again be eligible to collect on your first spouse’s benefits.  If you were married more than once and divorced more than once and each marriage was for more than 10 years you can choose which ex-spouse’s benefits to utilize so long as it is more than your own.