There are a lot of benefits that become muddled during the divorce process – and Social Security is one of them. Your Social Security benefits provide for ex-spouses almost like they do for current spouses. When collecting benefits on an ex-spouse’s earnings, you are not affecting his or her own benefit amount or his or her new spouse’s benefit amount. But, before you assume that you can collect on an ex’s benefits, you will need to understand how Social Security benefits work.

When You Are Married for 10 or More Years

If you are divorced, but you were married to your ex-spouse for 10 or more years, then you can receive your spousal benefits on your ex’s social security record – even if your ex-spouse has remarried. You will need to meet specific criteria to request your portion of the benefits, which include:

  • You must be unmarried
  • You must be at least 62 years old

If you collect based on the record for your ex-spouse, it will not affect his or her own benefit. If the ex-spouse has not yet applied to access his or her own benefits, you can still qualify for them, but you will need to make sure that the divorce happened at least two years ago.

Your Divorced Spouse and Your Benefits

If you are divorced, your ex can collect benefits based on your record, too – even if you have remarried. The benefit amount that your ex is allowed to receive is based on your work record and must be greater than the benefit that he or her would receive on his or her own record. There are numerous instances were ex-spouses are entitled to receive benefits based on the other’s work record, as long as the ex-spouse meets the criteria specified by the Social Security Administration.

What if My Ex-Spouse is Deceased?

You have divorced, but your ex-spouse has also passed away. You can still qualify to collect on his or her Social Security benefits, but you will need to meet different criteria than if the ex-spouse were still alive. These criteria include:

  • If you have remarried after age 60 and your ex-spouse is deceased, you can still collect based on the earnings record.
  • If your ex is deceased, you can apply based on his or her record as soon as you turn 60 (instead of 62).
  • To forgo the 10-year marriage requirement, you will need to be caring for a disabled child who is under the age of 16 and still receiving benefits.

Do Social Security Benefits Affect the Divorce?

When you are getting divorced, your Social Security benefits will not be an issue. Instead, it becomes an issue when you both are older and collecting based on your work record. You will need your divorce decree to establish the length of your marriage, and also prove that you are divorced from your ex. Your attorney can make sure to draft a decree that preserves your edibility for Social Security benefits from your ex later on, as well.

Going Through a Divorce? Learn More About Retirement Benefits and How They May Be Affected

While Social Security doesn’t take a big role in your divorce, your other retirement benefits will, such as your retirement accounts. If you have retirement accounts, speak with a family law attorney in Orange County right away to see how they will be affected. Call Sarieh Law Offices, ALC at 714-542-6200 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online with your questions.