divorced couples, social security is one of the few areas where strategic maneuvers can
make a huge difference in planning retirement income, depending on the
ages of the ex-spouses. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 established
two sets of regulations that directly affect how ex-spouses can claim
Social Security benefits after their divorce.
Can My Spouse Claim My Social Security Benefits?
First, an individual can claim Social Security benefits on their ex-spouse’s
earnings as if they were still married, as long as the individual is currently
single and divorced, and was married for at least 10 years. The rule still
applies even if that person’s ex-spouse has already remarried.
Second, an ex-spouse is “independently entitled” to claim Social
Security benefits on their former spouse’s earning records, as long
as the couple has been divorced for at least 2 years. The rule applies
even if the ex-spouse has yet to claim benefits. Moreover, both spouses
must be at least 62 years of age to be independently entitled to benefits,
however. Naturally, the law has a number of nuances that need might need
the input of a divorce lawyer. For example, there are certain cases where
an ex-spouse can collect spousal benefits only (also known as a restricted
claim), which is often worth half of the amount the ex-spouse is entitled
to upon retirement. And don’t forget, they can do that while their
own retirement benefit fund grows up as much as 8% until they turn 70
years old. This area is where the new rules take effect.
New Rules for Former Spouses
The new rules stipulate that only ex-spouses born on or before January
1, 1954 are able to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits when
they turn 66, while allowing their retirement benefit amount to increase
until they turn 70. This arrangement is unavailable to married couples,
as only one spouse can file for spousal benefits.
The new rules also specifically state that younger married couples and
divorced spouses do not have the option of choosing what kind of benefits
to claim. Fortunately, anyone born on or after January 2, 1954 will be
eligible to file for all possible Social Security benefits, whether spousal
or retirement. Claimants will be paid the larger amount of the two benefits.
The filing rule, however, excludes survivor benefits. This means that
if a divorced spouse had yet to claim Social Security benefits and their
ex-partner passed away, that person could still claim for survivor benefits
and, upon reaching the age of 70, switch to their own full retirement benefits.
Alternatively, depending on the divorced person’s age at the time
of their ex-spouse’s death, they might be eligible to first claim
their own reduced retirement, switching to full survivor benefits upon
If you are interested in divorce in Denton County, TX,
schedule a consultation with CokerLegal today.