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The effects of divorce on Social Security benefits

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2022 | Divorce

Some Washington residents who are considering a divorce should also learn about how the divorce can affect their Social Security benefits. While each case is different, for some residents the type and amount of benefits they will be eligible to receive can indeed be affected.

What types of Social Security benefits can you receive after a divorce?

When you reach retirement age, you might receive Social Security, but only if you worked for at least 10 years. However, if you did not complete the minimum number of years, you might still be eligible to receive spousal or survivor benefits from the SSA. Spousal benefits are based on your spouse’s work record. Survivor benefits are also based on your spouse’s work record, but a person must be a widow or widower to receive them. However, there are other factors that will impact the possibility of receiving Social Security benefits after divorce.

Factors that can affect Social Security payments after divorce

Social Security payments will be important for your retirement planning. If, however, you are not sure if or how much you will receive, you want to keep this in mind as you negotiate your divorce settlement. If you are counting on spousal or survivor benefits after divorce, you will need to meet certain conditions. These include:

  • Having been married for at least 10 years
  • Having reached 62 years of age
  • Being eligible for payments that are lower than those based on your spouse’s work history
  • Not remarrying
  • The ex-spouse having reached retirement age

Spousal benefits will translate into 50% of the total amount your ex-spouse would receive on their work record. If you did not work throughout the marriage or do not have at least 35 years of work history, even that 50% might be bigger than the benefits earned from your work record.