Your Benefit Could Be Reduced Or Denied If Your Ex
Fidelity surveyed* more than 1,000 people, asking whether they believed that an ex-spouse could influence their Social Security benefits. Fifty-two percent said yes, they could. The actual answer is no.
There are a lot of things an ex-spouse might do to complicate your life, but Social Security is off limits. Your ex has no influence over your benefits. When you are ready to claim your Social Security benefit, you simply make an appointment with your local SSA office and bring documents that prove the marriage and divorce. They will calculate your benefit options, and assuming you meet the criteria discussed earlier, you’ll receive the higher benefit based on your ex-spouse’s PIA.
Amount Of Survivors Benefits
The amount of a surviving spouse’s monthly Social Security check will depend on the earnings record of the deceased spouse. The surviving spouse will receive a percentage of the monthly amount the deceased spouse received if he or she was collecting SSDI at the time of death, or would have received if he or she had started to collect benefits. Here are the general rules:
- A surviving spouse who is 66 or 67 will receive 100% of the deceased worker’s monthly amount.
- A surviving spouse who is between age 60 and full retirement age will receive 71-99% percent of the deceased worker’s monthly amount.
- A surviving spouse who is receiving a mother’s or father’s benefit will receive 75% percent of the deceased worker’s monthly amount.
However, if the deceased worker’s children are collecting SSDI benefits at the same time, the surviving spouse’s benefit might be reduced. The total of the spouse’s benefit and the children’s benefit cannot be greater than the maximum family benefit, which is generally 150% to 180% of the deceased worker’s monthly SSDI benefit.
Note that the benefits paid to a divorced spouse based on being over 60 or disabled are not counted toward the maximum family benefit and won’t affect a current spouse’s or child’s benefits. However, benefits paid to a divorced spouse who is collecting a mother’s or father’s benefit are counted toward the maximum family benefit.
What Are Social Security Spousal Benefits
Social Security spousal benefits are retirement benefits paid by the Social Security Administration to the spouse of a primary beneficiary. When Social Security started, many women did not work outside the home. The Social Security Administration quickly realized that many women would not qualify for benefits because they did not have a sufficient earnings record. So, spousal benefits for wives began in 1939. This allowed a married woman to collect benefits upon reaching retirement age, even though she did not work enough to qualify for her own benefits. Husbands were not allowed to claim spousal benefits until 1950.
Similarly, the rules for ex-spouses who wish to claim spousal benefits have traditionally been more beneficial to women than men. Only fairly recently have the rules become more standardized so that the same rules apply to both men and women regardless of who the primary beneficiary is. Spousal benefits are often converted to survivor benefits after the passing of the primary beneficiary. The widow or widower may then switch to survivor benefits to receive a higher amount than they normally would using only spousal benefits.
Can My Spouse Work While I Collect Disability
But in her case, and in many others, if you have worked your entire life and paid your Social Security taxes responsibly, then you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits even if your spouse works and your spouse can continue to work while you are drawing your SSDI payments.
If you are sick or injured, have worked your whole life but now cannot due to your limitations, give us a call at Louisiana Disability Law for your free consultation 240-9773. We know the ins and outs of the system and can tell you if you have a valid claim. Call us or take our quick quiz to find out if you may qualify.
How To Get A Social Security Card
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Applying For Spousal Disability Benefits
If your husband or wife’s disability claim has already been approved, call the Social Security Administration at 772-1213 to apply for the spouse’s SSDI benefit. You must provide the SSA with your birth certificate, your marriage certificate, your Social Security number , and your bank’s routing information for direct deposit. If you are applying for a survivors benefit, you will also need to provide your deceased spouse or ex-spouse’s death certificate or other proof from the funeral home.
How Much Can I Receive
You can receive up to 50% of the amount your former spouse would receive in benefits at their full retirement age . This amount is not in addition to your own benefit and again, your benefit has to be lower than half of your exs benefit in order for you to apply. In other words, if your monthly Social Security check would be $1,000, and your exs benefit would be $1,500, you would not be eligible for former spousal benefits .
When applying for Social Security on your own record, your timing affects the amount you receive. That is also the case when applying on your former spouses record. You can begin receiving benefits when you turn 62, but since youd be applying for benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits would be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months until your full retirement age. To get the full 50% of your exs benefit, you must wait until your full retirement age, but waiting beyond that age wont get you any additional money like it does when applying on your own record.
A few more details:
And if, like Elizabeth Taylor, you have been married more than once, you can choose which spouses benefits you want to collect on.
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The Wives Of Johnny Carson
What happens if your ex happens to have 2 other exes and also a current spouse? Are you eligible for any benefits when they die?
This was the case with former late-night TV talk show host Johnny Carson, who was married 4 times. His first marriage lasted about 15 years the second, 9 years and the third, 13 years. The fourth marriage was intact when he died in 2005 and lasted 18 years. Assuming the ex-spouse rules were the same as today, his first and third wives were eligible to claim as ex-spouses on Johnny’s PIA . Because the second marriage lasted only 9 years, she unfortunately could not file for spousal benefits.
When Johnny died, his fourth and current wife would “step in his shoes” and receive the same monthly amount that Johnny had been receiving the 2 qualifying ex-spouses were also eligible to step in his shoes as surviving ex-spouses who met the qualifications. In this case, it is likely that all 3 women were receiving the same survivor benefit amount.
How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
Learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
Strategies For Maximizing Spousal Benefits
Every married couple has to figure out the best way to maximize their benefits depending on their own circumstances.
The three strategies below will help you make the most of your Social Security spousal benefits, depending on your circumstances. However, keep in mind that, regardless of your circumstances, the most a spouse can get is 50% of the amount that the higher-earning partner is entitled to at full retirement age.
Dependents Benefit For Former Spouses
If you have a marriage that ended in divorce, your former spouse may be eligible for benefits based on your work earnings if all of the following are true.
- The marriage lasted at least ten years.
- Your former spouse is at least 62 years old.
- Your former spouse is not married , and
- Your former spouse can’t get a benefit based on his or her earnings record in an amount higher than or equal to yours.
If your former spouse marries someone who is also eligible for Social Security benefits benefits), his or her spousal benefits won’t be affected.
If your former spouse gets benefits based on your earnings record, any benefit amount that your current spouse and children are entitled to is not affected.
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Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit
If the disabled worker dies but was receiving SSDI benefits when he died, a divorced spouse is entitled to benefits in either of the following circumstances:
- The surviving divorced spouse is 60 years old or older.
- The surviving divorced spouse is disabled and between 50 and 60.
If a surviving divorced spouse gets remarried before age 60, however, Social Security benefits will be denied . If the surviving divorced spouse gets divorced after age 60 , the Social Security Administration will ignore the marriage.
How Much Is The Social Security Spousal Benefit
If youre eligible and can qualify, the spousal benefit can be as much as 50% of the higher-earning spouses full retirement age benefit.
If your spouses full retirement age benefit amounts to $2,000 per month, your spousal benefit at your full retirement age could amount to $1,000 per month.
Its important to note that this benefit cannot be more than 50% of the higher-earning spouses full retirement benefitbut it can be less!
Thats because the benefit is also based on your filing age. Depending on how old you are when you file, the spousal benefit amount will range between 32.5% and 50% of the higher-earning spouses full retirement benefit.
Check out the chart below to get an idea of how the benefit works and what your payment might be if you can take advantage of spousal benefits. The chart assumes that your full retirement age is 67 and your spouses full retirement age benefit is $2,000 per month.
Did you notice the steep penalty for filing early? You receive significantly less in payments if you choose to file sooner rather than wait until full retirement age.
You may have also noticed that the spousal benefit does not increase beyond your full retirement age. When considering your own Social Security benefit, there can be a lot of advantages to waiting to file and delaying when you start receiving payments well past your retirement age, but thats not the case here.
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What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.
Some Answers To Common Questions On Social Security Disability And Spousal Benefits
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Have a question about saving for retirement or your personal financial situation? Whatever the question, Barrons Retirement can try to help. Email , and we might look to financial pros for answers.
Q: I had to take disability benefits at 59, and Im now 65. Will my monthly benefit change at full retirement age, or will I forever be on disability? Can I work part time without adversely affecting my income?
When you reach your full retirement age, a few months before turning 67, your benefits automatically will switch from disability benefits to retirement benefits, and the monthly check will be for about the same amount, according to Wade Pfau, professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services.
You may work while receiving disability benefits, but payments will stop if youre engaged in what the Social Security Administration, or SSA, calls substantial gainful activity. In 2022, that level is defined as earning more than $1,350 a month, or $2,260 if youre blind.
If youre receiving disability benefits, youre entitled to a trial work period of up to nine months to test your ability to work. During this time, you can make more than the capped amount without losing benefits, according to the SSA.
Once you reach full retirement age and transition to retirement benefits, theres no limit on how much you can earn while still receiving your full benefits.
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Can I Collect My Ex
You cannot collect your ex-spouses Social Security benefit, but you can collect your own benefits based on their record or earnings if you meet all requirements.
You can file for ex-spouse benefits many different ways:
- By making an appointment at your local Social Security office
The earliest you can apply is three months before your 62nd birthday.
If youre already getting Social Security benefits based on your own work record, you can also claim ex-spouse benefits, but you will only receive the higher amount. You will not be paid the combined amount.
How Do Divorce And Remarriage Affect Social Security Benefits
It is common knowledge that husbands and wives are entitled to collect Social Security benefits on their spouses’ work records. Less well known is that this benefit applies to divorced spouses as long as the spouse has not remarried. Divorced spouses are even entitled to survivor benefits in certain circumstances.
As a spouse, you have the option of claiming a Social Security retirement benefit based on your own earnings record or collecting a spousal benefit equal to half of your spouses Social Security benefit. You are automatically entitled to whichever benefit is higher and you can collect on your spouses record even if you have never worked yourself.
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As a divorced spouse you can collect benefits on your ex-spouses record, even if the ex-spouse has remarried and even if the ex-spouses new spouse is collecting on the same record.
But to get this benefit, you must meet the following requirements:
If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record provided you have been divorced for at least two years.
If you are caring for a child under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of your former spouse, you would not have to meet the 10-year marriage rule.
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If You’re Receiving Other Retirement Benefits
The calculation gets a bit more complicated if you are eligible to receive benefits from a government pension or foreign employer that is not covered by Social Security. In that case, you may still be eligible, but the amount will be reduced.
For example, if you have a government pension for which Social Security taxes are not withheld, the amount of your spousal benefit is reduced by two-thirds of the amount of your pension. This is known as a government pension offset.
For example, suppose you are eligible to receive $800 in Social Security spousal benefits and you also get $300 from a government pension each month. Your Social Security payment is reduced by two-thirds of $300, or $200, making your total benefit amount from all sources $900 per month + $300).
Maximizing Spousal Benefits For Divorced & Widowed Spouses
Now that most of the spousal benefit loopholes have been closed, there are not as many strategies for maximizing your spousal benefits. One of the biggest tips for maximizing your benefits now is to wait as long as possible to start your benefits. Starting benefits early will lead to lower payments while waiting until full retirement age will allow you to receive the highest benefit possible. Remember that waiting past full retirement age does not provide any value when it comes to spousal benefits or survivor benefits. Those benefits will not continue to grow past full retirement age, so there is no need to wait beyond that to start your benefits.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to widowed spouses is the fact that your deceased spouse did not need to reach retirement age for you to qualify for survivor benefits. Even if your spouse died before reaching retirement age or starting benefits, you might still be entitled to receive survivor benefits. Your spouse only needed to earn work credits for a minimum of ten years for you to qualify for a spousal benefit. So, this means that you might be entitled to a benefit even if your spouse passed away years before reaching retirement age.
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