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Social Security retirement benefits after divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2020 | Divorce |

The time and effort that goes into planning for retirement can unravel faster than most people realize. Now that you are facing a divorce, you understand this all too well. However, just because your retirement plans are looking different than they were just a year or so before does not mean that you have to give up on some of your goals.

Careful planning and attention to detail throughout the divorce process can help preserve your finances for retirement. This means that it is time to ask yourself some important questions about exactly how you are going to make things work. For example, have you asked yourself whether you will still be able to draw Social Security retirement benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work history?

Getting Social Security benefits

Maybe you did not work throughout your marriage or had to leave the workforce for one reason or another. If this is your situation, then you either do not have a work record to draw benefits based off, or the benefits you do qualify for do not amount to much. If this is your situation, you could draw benefits based not on your own work history, but your ex-spouse’s. To do so, you must:

  • Both be 62 or older
  • Have been married 10 years
  • Have been divorced for two years

You cannot claim benefits based on both your own work history and your ex’s. Instead, you will draw benefits based on whichever is higher. This is either 100% of benefits based on your work history or 50% based on your ex’s.

What happens when you remarry?

It is not uncommon for people to move on to new, happier marriages during retirement. However, if you choose to get married again, then you will lose the opportunity to draw benefits on your ex’s record. If your ex remarries, you will still be able to draw those same benefits without issue.

But what happens when someone has more than one ex-spouse? For example, if you were married twice and both of those marriages lasted for at least 10 years, you can only receive benefits based on one of those exes’ work history. This will be your most recent spouse.

When your ex is not receiving benefits

If your spouse was the primary breadwinner for the family, chances are that he or she might not need to start drawing benefits as soon as you do. This should not pose a problem if you need to rely on Social Security retirement benefits before he or she does — you can still qualify for the same amount of benefits. If he or she starts drawing before you, this will not affect your benefits.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to retirement after divorce. Your Social Security retirement benefits do not have to be one of them. However, you should not delay speaking with an Alabama attorney about your post-divorce finances. Working closely with an experienced counsel is an important step for protecting your future retirement.