Divorce is a huge period of change in any persons’ life. There are obviously emotional changes that you are going through, as well as legal and financial. In an ideal world this process would be as simple and straightforward as possible, so as not to add further stress to an already difficult situation. It is important for you as an individual to be aware of what you/ your estranged partner are entitled to legally, so you are able to move forward with clarity – and with the correct knowledge. This is pertinent when it comes to the question of Social Security benefits.
Social Security Benefits Calculations
Firstly, you have to understand how Social Security benefits are determined. For those in employment, their benefits are calculated based on a formula of how many ‘credits’ they have earned; i.e. how any years they have been in work. As some households have a ‘breadwinner’ and a ‘homemaker’, this means that the later would not have been able to build-up their own ‘credits’, even though they have been an important part of the household. In this situation, the individual who was not in employment receives spousal retirement benefits, receiving half of their significant other’s benefit amount.
After divorce, an individual may still claim spousal benefit based on their ex-partner’s employment. In order to be deemed eligible to receive this, they must meet the following obligations:
- The marriage must have lasted for a least a decade
- They must be currently unmarried
- They must be at least 62
- Their ex-partner must be entitled to retirement or disability benefits
- They must not be eligible for an equal or higher amount of retirement or disability benefits
The individual will still be entitled to half of the benefits if all the requirements are met. If before the age of retirement a person wishes to apply for Social Security spousal benefits, then the amount they receive will be reduced. If the person eligible for Social Security benefits remarried, their ex-partner will still receive the full amount of spousal benefit, regardless.