Social Security and Divorce

How does divorce affect one’s Social Security benefit?  Can a stay-at-home parent collect Social Security based on their spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) work record?  The answer is “yes.”

The requirements can be summarized as follows:

Your marriage had to have lasted at least 10 years; you can’t be remarried; you have to be at least 62; and your ex-spouse has to be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. If you haven’t yet reached your full retirement age, you would receive a percentage of the benefit you would be entitled to get at that date.

Also, the benefit you are entitled to based on your own work generally would have to be less than the benefits you would receive based on your spouse’s work. (However, if you wait until your full retirement age to file for Social Security, you can restrict the scope of your application to your ex-spouse’s benefit only, and continue to accrue credits for delaying your own retirement benefit up to age 70.)

If your ex-spouse receives a benefit based on your earnings, your own Social Security benefit wouldn’t be affected whatsoever.

The Social Security Administration has several helpful publications, including “What Every Woman Should Know” (skip to page 20) and Section 305 of the Social Security Handbook.

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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