Social Security and Divorce: Do Benefits Apply to Spouses After a Divorce?

A significant portion of divorces that take place every year involve a couple that has been married for a great deal of time. In fact, the largest population of divorcing couples are called "gray divorces," meaning that the coupleis older than expected and generally married for some time. When two people split after building a home, life and family together, it is sure to be a difficult adjustment into life as an independent, especially for someone who dedicated their lives to staying at home. There is an untold number of people in marriages who give up an outside career to building a home and raising children. Unfortunately, being a stay-at-home parent is as much a full-time job as any but without the financial benefits and security. As married person, these individuals are assumed under the financial care of their spouse but what happens to them after a divorce?

Fortunately, the way that social security is set up, a couples that has been married for more than 10 years is still eligible to benefit from one spouses's record once the other reaches retirement age. This includes all benefits earned before their retirement, including those earned after the divorce took place. Furthermore, assuming the marriage lasted past the 10-year mark, an ex-spouse can still receive social security benefits even if their counterpart remarries after the divorce.

The benefits are paid as follows:

  • Once the primary wage-earning spouse reaches retirement age, they will be eligible to receive a monthly amount in social security benefits.
  • Once the other spouse turns 66, the former spouse of more than ten years will be eligible to receive a monthly amount equivalent to half of what he will receive.

This is known as derivative benefits. This will be true no matter how many times the spouses may remarry after their divorce.

The most important requirement for these benefits is that the marriage lasted longer than 10 years. If a couple is filing for divorce and they are nearing their 10-year mark, the finalization should be delayed until after that point in order for each party to receive social security benefits. If you are considering divorce, or if you a recent divorcee wondering what you may be eligible to receive in terms of social security benefits, contact our Orange County divorce lawyer today.

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