The Surprising Factor That Could Affect Your Social Security Benefits

October 28th, 2020

You have probably heard before that 50% of marriages end in divorce. As of 2018, however, this isn’t true anymore. Business Insider reports that this number is much closer to 40% now, although this is still a fairly sizable number! 

There are tons of factors that influence whether a couple will get divorced. Some research shows that when each half of a couple has different drinking habits, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce. Other research has shown a growing trend of “gray divorce” among seniors. It’s possible this is due to women having more financial freedom than they did in the past. Many women may no longer financially depend on men. 

One surprising side effect of divorce is that it can end up affecting your Social Security benefits. If you’ve been married to the same person for your whole life, it’s probably not surprising that your Social Security benefits are pretty straightforward. You start claiming benefits sometime after age 62 or 65 (depending on when you were born) and enjoy those benefits for the rest of your life.

However, if you divorce or remarry, your benefits are a little more complicated. If your former spouse earned more than you, you may be able to receive half the amount of their benefit. Of course, as with most social welfare programs, you do have to meet certain qualifications first. 

However if you: 

  • Are able to receive Social Security benefits
  • Were married to your spouse for 10 years or longer
  • Are currently unmarried
  • Are currently 62 or older
  • Receive a lower benefit than your ex-spouse

…you may be able to collect half of your ex’s “full retirement amount” of Social Security. The good news is that if you expect to collect a larger benefit than your ex-spouse, you won’t lose any of your benefit. In other words, you still get the full amount.

However, if you remarry, you may not be able to receive that full benefit. This largely depends on your individual situation. Naturally, you’ll probably want to think about this before you start receiving your benefits, or remarry. You may even want to check with a lawyer or financial adviser to understand how it’ll impact you.

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