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Social Security Benefits and Divorce

Social Security Benefits and Divorce

If your marriage lasted 10 years or more, and you are now divorcing, you may be able to receive Social Security benefits on your soon-to-be former spouse’s record (or vice versa). In order to receive these benefits on your former spouse’s record, the following criteria must be met:

You must be unmarried.

At the time your former spouse is eligible to receive Social Security benefits, you must be unmarried to receive your portion. If your former spouse has remarried, your ability to receive benefits on your former spouse’s record will be unaffected. If after your divorce you remarried, but that marriage ended, you would still be able to receive benefits off your first spouse’s record, assuming you meet the other criteria

You must be 62 years old (or older).

You will not see any Social Security retirement benefit before you are 62. Likewise, your former spouse must also be 62 or older. If your former spouse is 62 or older, but has not yet applied for retirement benefits, you can start receiving your benefit on his or her record as long as you have been divorced from your former spouse for at least two years.

Your former spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Your former spouse must have a work record from which he or she will receive benefits.

The Social Security benefit you would receive is less than the benefit you would receive based on your former spouse’s record.

If you worked and are able to apply for your own Social Security benefits, you may still be able to claim an additional amount based off your former spouse’s record. In order to do so, the amount you would receive on your own must be less than the benefit you would receive from your former spouse’s record. You will receive an additional amount on top of your benefit in order to equal the higher amount you would otherwise be entitled to.

All of the above criteria must be met in order to receive benefits based upon your former spouse’s record. If you meet all of the above criteria, your benefit is equal to one-half of your former spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit.

Because Social Security benefits are a federal benefit, Nebraska state courts do not have jurisdiction to divide benefits in your divorce decree. Federal law, instead of state law, controls.

Planning for future benefits can bring peace of mind during this time of emotional upheaval. Your experienced family law attorney will be able to educate you regarding all the benefits you can receive post-divorce. Ask your attorney how you can maximize the future benefits to which you are entitled.

Lindsay Belmont