Even if your divorce is ancient history and you have had no contact with your ex since that day, you might still be entitled to benefits based on his or her earnings record. If you were the sole caretaker for your children, left the workforce to take care of parents, or had other situations that made it where you could not work, you may be able to get benefits from your former spouse’s work. The key is to know what you can and cannot claim and how to go about claiming your social security benefits after you have had a divorce.
Here at Grunyk Family Law, we are available to help guide you on Social Security claims after a divorce and can help you know what your rights are. Here are some things you need to know about filing for spousal or survivor benefits after a divorce:
In order to have a claim to benefits through your former spouse, you must have had a marriage that lasted at least ten years. You also have to be 60 years of age or older in most cases, and your individual benefits must be less than what you would get from your former spouses work history. You cannot claim both your own work based Social Security benefits and the benefits from your former spouse at the same time; it is one or the other.
You can collect spousal benefits regardless of whether or not your ex-spouse has started claiming benefits. In addition, your spousal benefits do not lower the benefits your ex or his or her new husband or wife will receive when the ex-spouse is able to file. You will have to supply Social Security with documentation proving you were married to your former spouse and then divorced to establish your right to claim those benefits
The overall lifetime benefits you are entitled to can be increased by delaying your claim. Of course, you can file your claim and get benefits earlier, but the amount you will be entitled to will be reduced by around 8-10 percent for each year that you claim before you reach full retirement age or established by the federal government.
Individuals who are divorced can also be eligible for what are known as survivor benefits. In most cases, you can claim these benefits when your ex-spouse dies as long as you both were legally married to each other for at least 10 years. If your ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for 100 percent of his or her payout. Remarriage has no effect whatsoever on your eligibility, provided you are at least 60 years old, or at least 50 years old if you are disabled. You can then make the switch back to your own work- based benefits at a later time when you are able to file for your own full Social Security benefits if that would end up giving you a larger payout.
If you have questions about how a divorce impacts your ability to begin filing for spousal or survivor benefits through social security give us a call here at Grunyk Family Law today! Call today to speak to one of our friendly and experienced attorneys and schedule your consultation appointment today!