Social Security Retirement Benefits and Divorce - Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis

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Social Security Retirement Benefits and Divorce

Mary Niemira

When considering ending a marriage, many who are close to or at retirement age are concerned about their ability to continue to meet their needs following divorce.   “What sources of income will I have?” is a common concern.  Where the spouses are retired and no longer employed, an award of spousal support may not be realistic or appropriate.  The divorce judgment will divide the former spouses’ interests in any pension plans, IRAs, deferred compensation and other retirement accounts.  But the divorce court does not divide the parties’ respective interests in his or her Social Security Retirement Benefits.  What happens to these?  This is particular of concern to those individuals who, by agreement during the marriage, stayed at home to raise a family and did not pursue a career while his or her former spouse worked.   Or, it may be a concern where there is a substantial difference in the amount each spouse earned during the marriage.  The fact that the divorce judgment does not award Social Security Retirement Benefits does not mean a former spouse may not receive benefits based on his or her former spouses’ record.  In fact, under certain circumstances, a former spouse may be able to receive benefits based on his or her former spouse’s earnings record.  

If you are wondering if you may be able to receive benefits based on your former spouse’s record, consider the following.  If you meet the requirements listed below, you may be able to receive Social Security Retirement Benefits based on your former spouse’s record:

  1. You are divorced.
  2. The duration of your marriage to your former spouse was ten years or longer.
  3. You are age 62 or older.
  4. You have not remarried (although there may be an exception to this requirement if the later marriage is dissolved, annulled, or ends upon the death of your spouse).
  5. Your former spouse must be entitled to receive the benefits based on his or her own record.

If you are at or close to retirement age and are in the midst of or considering divorce, you should explore the possibility that you may be entitled to receive Social Security Retirement Benefits based on your former, or soon to be former, spouse’s record.  You should discuss this with your attorney.  You should also contact your local Social Security office to get information regarding your benefit and take the necessary steps to obtain information regarding your spouse’s benefit so that following divorce you have the knowledge to make informed decisions.

About the author:

Mary Niemira is an experienced family law attorney who is committed to guiding her clients through the legal process in a respectful way.

If you want to learn more about your divorce process options, give her a call.  She can be reached at 314.854.8710, or email her at men@carmodymacdonald.com

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April 18, 2019
Social Security Retirement Benefits and Divorce

When considering ending a marriage, many who are close to or at retirement age are concerned about their ability to continue to meet their needs following divorce.   “What sources of income will I have?” is a common concern.  Where the spouses are retired and no longer employed, an award of spousal support may not be […]

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