For many seniors, Social Security is their financial lifeline. In fact, according to a report from the Society of Actuaries, 85% of seniors depend on it. This is why it is so important for seniors to maximize their benefits, especially for those facing divorce or those retiring after a divorce. And, it turns out that one’s marital status can have a huge effect on one’s Social Security benefits.
How marital status affects Social Security benefits
Generally, one’s Social Security benefits are based on one’s own work record and earnings throughout their career. However, one is also, generally, entitled to their spouse’s benefits as well, regardless of one’s own work record. This is true, even if one has divorced their spouse.
How one qualifies for spousal and divorce benefits
To collect on one’s spousal and divorce benefits, one first needs to be or have been married to a person who is entitled to Social Security benefits. In addition, the marriage needed to have lasted for at least 10 year.
The amount of benefits
The actual amount of one’s spousal and divorce benefits will vary greatly from person to person. But, the maximum one can collect is 50% of what the spouse themselves were entitled to at their full retirement age.
For example, if one is entitled to receive $1,514 per month in benefits, their spouse or ex-spouse would be entitled to receive half, or $757 per month.
Can one claim their own benefits, along with a spousal or divorce benefits?
Yes. Although, one can only receive the higher of the two benefits. For example, if one’s spouse or ex-spouse is entitled to $2,000 per month, and one is entitled to $800 per month themselves, they would not receive $1,800 per month. Instead, they would only be entitled to $1,000 per month in spousal or divorce benefits
For those in Las Vegas and surrounding areas in Nevada in the divorce process, especially those nearing retirement age, Social Security benefits can be an important factor to discuss. These benefits can account for a huge amount of monthly income in retirement, and if they are not discussed and apportioned during the divorce process, one spouse can end up with a windfall.