For Richer or Poorer, Even After Divorce
When it comes to retirement, Social Security income may not be the largest chunk of cash upon which a retiree relies every month, but this retirement asset is still critical and welcome. Individuals are eligible to claim a Social Security divorced spousal benefit if they were married for at least 10 years and divorced for two years before retirement. Married for less than 10 years? Even if you were married for nine years and 364 days, you’re out of luck.
The reality is this: A change in your marital status can affect your Social Security benefits in a variety of ways, so don’t ever attempt a DIY divorce.
- You can claim the best Social Security benefits. If your time as husband and wife lasted over a decade, you can claim either your own Social Security benefit or your ex’s benefit – whichever is higher – when you’re ready to retire.
- You can claim both your benefits and your ex’s benefits. It’s actually possible to benefit from your own Social Security benefits as well as your former spouse’s, but not at the same time. For example, you can begin your divorced spousal benefit at the age of 66 – considered the full retirement age – and then switch to your own benefits when you hit age 70. This gives you four more years to allow your personal benefits to grow a little higher.
- You don’t have to wait for your ex-spouse to file for Social Security first. You can become eligible for divorced spousal benefits if you and your ex are both at least 62 years of age. This is the earliest age that a person is eligible to file for personal or spousal benefits.
If You Go to the Chapel Again
If you remarry after your Michigan divorce, you typically lose any Social Security benefits that you may have been eligible for from your former spouse. What if you divorce twice and both marriages lasted more than 10 years? You could be eligible for both benefits, but you’ll still only receive the higher of the two benefits.
If a former spouse is claiming divorced spousal benefits on your record, does that mean your retirement benefits may drop drastically? Nope. The Social Security Administration reports that the benefits payable to your divorced spouse have no effect on the amount of benefits you or your current spouse may receive.
It’s important to know where you stand and how your Social Security benefits are calculated so that you can make the best decision about your retirement, yes, but also when to divorce. Hanging onto the marriage for a few more months could make all the difference for you later. Your Michigan divorce attorney can help guide you in your decision-making and recommend financial analysts to help you plan your future. Contact Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your initial interview.