Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)
Did you know that even after divorce you still may be entitled to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s contributions? It’s an area many divorced couples may overlook, but one that can be crucial to your the financial well-being.
According to an article on iVillage.com, one in five women age 65 and older relies solely on Social Security for her income. Social Security benefits are based on contributions which, in turn, are based on income. Women’s benefits, the article noted, are generally lower than men’s by an average of about 25%, partly because women spend more time out of the workforce taking care of family commitments and partly because, in many industries, women continue to earn less than men. (1) This is one reason not to overlook spousal benefits even after the marriage ends.
A person may be able to collect an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits provided certain criteria are met, according to the Social Security Agency. For one thing, your marriage had to have lasted at least ten years. Also, you must be 62 or over and unmarried at the time of filing in order to receive the benefits. (2)
This applies even if your ex remarries. The amount you collect in spousal benefits has no bearing on what your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse could collect. If you remarry, however, you would not be able to collect an ex-spouse’s benefits until your current marriage ended either by divorce, annulment or death. (2)
If you have been married more than once, you could be eligible to collect benefits based on each of your former spouse’s contributions provided each of the marriages lasted at least ten years, but you could not collect both or combine the benefits. Instead, you would choose the best benefits. (3)
Your ability to collect an ex-spouse’s benefits does not rely on whether he or she has begun taking benefits themselves. You may apply for these benefits provided you have been divorced for two years or more and remain unmarried at the time of filing. (4)
There are other criteria to consider when claiming Social Security benefits. Knowing the right questions to ask is sometimes the best place to start. If you or someone you know needs assistance with a similar divorce matter in Hunterdon County, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm, Route 22 West, Lebanon, N.J.