Getting Social Security benefits after divorce

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Social Security is a big part of most Illinois residents’ retirement plan. Though it should not be the only source of income retirees can rely upon, after paying into the system for decades, most people expect to receive Social Security benefits once they are old enough to qualify.

Spouses who would not qualify for Social Security based on their own work history, many of them longtime homemakers, can qualify for spousal benefits. But what if you are divorced? Are you out of luck?

Not necessarily, as TIME recently reminded us. Many older people who were married for a long time still qualify for Social Security, in recognition of their contribution to their former spouse’s income earning capacity.

The Social Security Administration has several rules for qualifying for Social Security this way. First, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, and you cannot be remarried when you apply. You must be at least 62 years old. To file early, your former spouse must also be at least 62 or collecting Social Security, or the two of you must have been divorced for at least two years.

For divorced people who qualify for Social Security based on their work history, it is common to worry that their ex’s benefits will reduce what they will get. But it does not work that way; an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits have no effect on your benefits.

Social Security can become especially important after divorce, after which each ex may have to rely upon themselves for financial support. But it is still possible for divorced people to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Related Posts