As people age, they near their retirement years. Living a comfortable retirement often requires planning in advance. Sometimes, things happen unexpectedly that could impact retirement planning. A marriage that ends in divorce may lead to retirement-related questions even years after proceedings end. Since so many people rely on Social Security benefits during retirement, questions may arise about current benefits and whether a previous marriage affects them.
Misconceptions about Social Security benefits and ex-spouses further muddy the waters. A person may believe they have a claim on all the ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. If exes get remarried, they might assume that a claim on benefits is no longer possible. Such beliefs are myths, even though they are quite widespread. Myths and misconceptions won’t help someone seeking the appropriate amount of Social Security benefits. Instead, it may be wise to look into what Social Security Administration statutes say about the matter.
The first thing to understand would be the time required for eligibility. To collect Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse, the marriage must last at least 10 years. Other requirements exist. The ex-spouse must already be claiming benefits, and the other ex-spouse must be at least 62. The spouse claiming the benefit must also not be remarried. There are other rules on record that affect eligibility.
Don’t expect state divorce law to play a role in SSA benefits. States can’t change federal laws or rules. The SSA will require a completed application for benefits. Submitting a divorce decree and other information becomes necessary. Be aware the SSA will not provide any information to the ex-spouse or notify them of any claims.
The average person might have difficulty understanding the laws related to Social Security divorce benefits. Speaking with a family law attorney might help shed light on the rules. An attorney could also assist with steps to apply for benefits.