Two Decades Of Florida Family Law Experience

What you need to know about divorce and Social Security benefits

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2021 | Divorce

When people get divorced in their 50s or early 60s, they naturally want to still be able to afford a comfortable retirement afterward. Besides their retirement savings, most people depend on Social Security to help pay their living expenses in their golden years.

You probably already know that you earn Social Security by working or by being married to someone who works. You might think that once you get divorced, your right to claim spousal benefits goes away. But actually, many divorced people in Florida can collect Social Security based on their ex’s work history.

6 requirements for Social Security spousal benefits

There are six rules for claiming Social Security based on a former spouse’s work history:

  • The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years
  • You cannot be currently married, unless you remarried after you turned 60 years old
  • Unless you are disabled or your ex has died, you must wait until three months before your 62nd birthday to file
  • The benefit under your ex’s work history is worth more than what you would receive under your own work history
  • Of course, your ex must be entitled to Social Security or disability benefits
  • If your ex is already collecting Social Security when you divorce, you must wait two years after finalizing the divorce to claim the spousal benefit

The maximum you can collect is 50 percent of what your ex would collect if they wait until Full Retirement Age, which is 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Filing before you reach full retirement age reduces the amount of benefit you will receive. Conversely, waiting past full retirement age increases how much you will get. These factors, along with your other income, wealth and age, will likely affect your negotiations over property division and alimony.

Waiting to finish your divorce

The first rule above is something to keep in mind if your marriage lasted just under a decade. If you have been married for nine years, you or your ex (depending on who would claim the spousal benefit) may wish to delay finalizing the divorce until after the 10th anniversary.