The File And Suspend Strategy
Prior to 2016, workers could file for benefits , then suspend their own benefits in order to maximize their credits for deferred filing. This so-called file and suspend strategy meant that a lower-income partner could take advantage of spousal benefits while the primary earner accrued delayed retirement credits, thereby increasing their benefit amount.
However, this “have your cake and eat it, too” loophole was closed with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which took effect in April 2016.
While it is still possible to file for benefits and then suspend payments temporarily, any other benefits that would normally be available on your account are no longer payable during such suspensions.
Social Security And Divorce: What You Need To Know
Although more and more women are in the workforce, many can receive a larger Social Security benefit based on their ex-spouses work record than they would on their own. The Social Security Administration will calculate each benefit for you, and you will receive whichever is the higher amount. You do not receive both benefits.
A divorced woman must meet certain criteria to collect benefits based on her ex-spouses work record:
- You must have been married for 10 years or longer.
- You must not be currently married.
- If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouses record unless your later marriage ends .
- If you re-married and your second spouse is deceased, you qualify to claim benefits from either your first spouse if that marriage lasted at least 10 years, or your second spouse as long as you were married at least 9 months before he died.
Do I have to wait for my ex-spouse to start collecting benefits?
You can start collecting benefits if your ex-spouse is 62 or older and you have been divorced for two or more years.
How much of his benefit will I receive?
If my ex-spouse remarried and his new spouse is collecting benefits based on his record, will that reduce my benefits?
Did I have to file special papers at the time of my divorce?
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.
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Strategies For Applying For Benefits As A Divorced Spouse
When performing retirement planning, most people look for ways to maximize the amount of money they will receive each month. When looking at Social Security, there are strategies that you can use to make sure you are maximizing your spousal benefit. If your birthday is before January 2, 1954, you have more options than those born after that date. Those born before that date often employ the following strategy. Upon reaching age 62, go ahead and start spousal benefits based on your ex-wife or ex-husbands record. This will allow your own Social Security benefit to grow. When you reach age 70, then your own retirement benefit will be maxed out, and you can switch over to the full benefit amount based on your own earnings record.
However, for those born after January 2, 1954, this is not an option. When you apply for Social Security benefits, you are effectively applying for all benefits to which you are entitled. This includes your own benefits as well as spousal benefits from any ex-spouses for which you might qualify. The Social Security Administration pays your benefits based on your own record first. If your benefit would be higher based on your ex-spouses earnings, then that amount is added to your monthly payment to raise your benefit to the higher amount.
Social Security Eligibility For Divorced Spouses
So, how can an ex-wife or ex-husband qualify for benefits based on the ex-spouses record? There are a few simple rules that the Social Security Administration sets forth for an ex-spouse to collect Social Security based on their ex-spouses benefit. These rules are as follows. First, the marriage must have lasted at least ten years. Next, the ex-spouse wishing to claim spousal benefits must be at least age 62. They must also not be remarried. Remember that getting remarried while your ex-spouse is still living will stop all eligibility for spousal benefits based on the ex-spouses Social Security benefit. Lastly, your ex-spouse must be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.
So, what happens if you are divorced more than once? You might qualify for a monthly benefit based on more than one ex-wife or ex-husbands Social Security benefit. In that case, you would receive the higher benefit amount of the two. Suppose that you had two marriages that both lasted ten years and met all the other qualifying requirements. In that case, you would be entitled to the higher amount of the two. When you claim Social Security benefits, the SSA will calculate your monthly payment based on both spouses work records. The higher of the two will be selected as your benefit amount.
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How To Calculate Your Own Social Security Spousal Benefits
The spousal benefit calculation is straightforward if you dont have a benefit of your own. Remember, in that case, its between 32.5% and 50% of the higher-earning spouses full retirement age benefit, depending on your filing age.
However, it can seem a little more complicated if you have Social Security benefits from your work history.
And to keep things interesting, the Social Security Administration decided that a different calculation method should be used to determine how much each benefit should increase/decrease based on your filing age.
As complicated as Social Security benefits can seem, there is a way to correctly calculate how much your spousal benefit will be if you qualify to receive it.
Check out this section of my video that goes over this calculation step-by-step. VIDEO: How To Calculate Spousal Benefits The RIGHT Way
If you understand how they break down the individual benefits, its not hard to use the table above to quickly figure out what your approximate benefit will be. Heres an example.
Joe and Julie each have a Social Security benefit from work they individually performed. Julies benefit at her full retirement age is $800 per month. Joes benefit at his full retirement age is $2,000.
Assuming they are both full retirement age when they file, Joe will be entitled to a benefit of $2,000 and Julie will be entitled to the greater of her own benefit or half of Joes benefit.
Sounds simple, right?
Can A Divorced Spouse Receive Disability Benefits
To qualify for benefits as a disabled surviving spouse, you must be divorced from a deceased spouse and meet the following requirements: … Have been married at least 10 years before the date the divorce became final. Meet the disability related requirements. Be unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded.
Should I Claim Social Security Benefits Based On My Exs Work Record
A person should always wait until full retirement age to collect Social Security retirement benefits, if at all possible. This may require working longer and/or spending down other funds for several years. But the difference between receiving 32.5% or 50% of an ex-spouses retirement benefit is substantial.
In the meantime, how long you must wait to qualify for Social Security benefits may have a significant impact on your separation agreement and your future finances. As your divorce attorneys, Charles R. Ullman & Associates can help you look at the various scenarios for obtaining the best available Social Security benefit as well as other financial considerations as you seek a divorce. Determining all that our clients are due from Social Security and other entitlements, as well as from their ex-spouses, is part of our mission to protect a clients financial future after a divorce.
We are a Raleigh, N.C., law firm that focuses on family law. Attorney Charles Ullman is a board-certified specialist in North Carolina family law, a certification that requires additional education, extensive experience, and a written examination.
Our legal team focuses on providing compassion, understanding, and clear advice as we guide our clients through divorce and the transition to a new life. Phone 336-0136 or contact us online today to set up an initial consultation.
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Start With Your Benefits Estimates
Your first step in maximizing your Social Security benefits should be to visit the Social Security Administration website. If you know your ex’s Social Security number, you can check for his or her benefits as well. Or you can ask your ex about his or her benefits if the two of you are on good terms.
If you’re not, the SSA can give you information about your ex’s benefits. You’ll need both your and your ex-spouse’s benefits estimates to determine your best Social Security claiming strategy.
When you file for Social Security, you file for all the benefits for which you’re eligible, including divorced spousal benefits. So even if you don’t know your former spouse’s Social Security number, you can still file for and receive divorced spousal benefits.
How Does Remarriage Change Social Security Benefits From A Former Spouse
If your former spouse is still living, keep in mind that marrying someone else typically means you won’t be able to collect on the work record of your former spouse. Additionally, if your former spouse is deceased and you wed again before age 60 and stay married, you typically won’t qualify for survivor benefits of your former partner.
If you have more than one former spouse, you may be eligible for benefits based on the work record of the higher earner. Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter if your ex-spouse remarries if you want to collect on their benefits. There are a few circumstances where you may not lose your Social Security when you remarry. Determine whether you’reparticularly if your new spouse receives survivor benefits, divorced-spouse benefits or childhood disability benefits.
Please Answer A Few Questions To Help Us Determine Your Eligibility
Divorced spouses are often entitled to SSDI benefits when their ex-spouse begins to collect disability benefits , or sometimes after a disabled ex-spouse dies.
If you were married for at least ten years to a former spouse who has become disabled and is now entitled to SSDI benefits as the result of a disability, you may be entitled to a monthly benefit check as well. When you collect Social Security benefits based on another person’s Social Security earnings record, the benefits are called auxiliary benefits. The vast majority of auxiliary benefits are paid to wives and ex-wives few husbands and ex-husbands receive an auxiliary benefit.
How Much Social Security Does A Divorced Spouse Get
Retirement funds may be particularly top of mind if you’re going through a divorce in your later years. You may wonder if you’re eligible to collect Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s recordand, if so, how much you’re entitled to.
So, how much Social Security does a divorced spouse get? Just as marriages and government programs can be complicated, so can navigating Social Security after a marriage ends.
When it comes to Social Security benefits and divorce, the federal government has rules regarding divorced spouse benefits and surviving divorced spouse benefits. A lot factors into it, including the length of your marriage, your age, whether or not you’ve remarried or have dependents, and more. Here’s where to start.
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Benefits For Your Family
If youre getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. If they qualify, your ex-spouse, spouse, or child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your retirement benefit amount. These Social Security payments to family members will not decrease the amount of your retirement benefit.
Should I File For Divorce Before My Spouse Starts Receiving Benefits
The answer to this question depends on your current circumstances and why you are filing for divorce.
Regardless, when you apply for the divorce, you are still eligible for your spousal social security as long as you have been married for ten years. But before you can receive this benefit, your divorce has to be at least two years, even if your former partner hasnt filed for divorce yet.
Generally, it is best to apply for spousal social security if you are still married and consider divorce final. Also, it is vital to know and save your ex-spouses Social Security numbers and dates of birth. That will make the enrollment process smooth and faster.
How To Apply For Benefits As A Divorced Spouse
You can apply for benefits online by going to SSA.gov, or making an appointment at your local Social Security office. To apply for benefits on a former spouse’s work record, you will need to have that person’s Social Security number or date and place of birth and parents names.
When you apply for spousal benefits as a divorced spouse, Social Security will assume you are also applying for benefits on your own work record, and you’ll be eligible for the higher amount of the two. If your benefit is lower, Social Security will first pay you an amount based on your record, then make up the difference between that and what you’re eligible for on your ex-spouse’s record.
Chapter : What Are Survivor Benefits
While many people associate Social Security benefits with payouts to retired workers, the Social Security Administration in fact distributes several different kinds of beneifts. These include both benefits for the families of a deceased worker, as well as benefits for people who are disabled and so unable to work.
Social Security survivor benefits provide an important source of income for family members whose workers have passed away. As long as the deceased worker would have been eligible to collect Social Security benefits upon their retirement, their family members will be able to collect them in their stead.
Did you Know?
If the deceased worker would have been eligible to collect Social Security benefits upon their retirement, their family may be able to collect them in their stead.
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Social Security’s Rules For Ex
If you were married for at least 10 years and have been divorced for at least two, you can take benefits based on your ex’s record instead of your own once you’re 62, provided that you’re still unmarried. But you can only do so if your ex’s record would result in you receiving a higher benefit than you’d get based on your own.
It’s important to note that you would not be in any sense taking anything away from your ex by doing this. You claiming Social Security based on their record will have zero impact on their benefits.
The most an ex-spouse can get in this way is 50% of their full retirement age benefit. The maximum full retirement age benefit is $3,345 per month in 2022. Therefore, you could get up to $1,672.50 in monthly benefits as an ex-spouse.
Essentially, most of the rules are the same as they are for taking benefits based on a current spouse’s record, with one key exception. In order for someone to claim Social Security based on their current spouse’s income record, the spouse has to be taking their benefits already. But if you’re claiming on an ex-spouse’s record, your ex only needs to be eligible for benefits. It doesn’t matter if they’re actually taking them yet.
It’s also important to note that Social Security will give you the bigger of your own benefit or your ex’s benefit. But you can’t collect both.
How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Someone To Get Their Social Security
How long does someone have to be married to collect Social Security spouse benefits? To receive a spouse benefit, you generally must have been married for at least one continuous year to the retired or disabled worker on whose earnings record you are claiming benefits. There are narrow exceptions to the one-year rule.
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