Divorce & Who Gets the Social Security Retirement Benefit Payments?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2012 | Divorce

Many individuals who are contemplating Divorce are at, or near, retirement age and ask the questions whether their own, ex or soon-to-be ex partner’s Social Security retirement benefits are considered to be marital property and, therefore subject to equitable distribution. The answer is-it depends. You can contact my Pittsburgh law office for more information.

The best source to answer these questions is the Retirement Planner provided online by the Social Security administration. The Planner states that “if you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if:

1. You are unmarried

2. You are age 62 or older

3. Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and

4. The benefits you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouses work.

The Planner goes on to state that if you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

What if your ex has not applied, but is eligible? You can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

Now, if Ms. Divorce’ is eligible for retirement benefits on her own record, the Administration will pay the amount she is eligible first. However, if the benefit on her ex-spouse’s record is a higher amount, she will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount. (reduced for age). If Ms. Divorce’ has reached full retirement age and she is eligible for the ex spouse’s benefits and her own benefits, she has a choice.

She can choose to just receive the ex spouse’s benefit now and delay receiving her own benefits to a later date. So why delay? Because if benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of delayed retirement credits. That’s right-the government will pay you more if you delay your payments.


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