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Social Security basics after a marriage ends

On Behalf of | May 21, 2019 | Divorce |

One of the benefits of marriage in Ohio is the ability to collect spousal Social Security benefits. Even when one spouse earns little or no income, they could still potentially collect up to 50% of their significant other’s full benefits if they qualify for Social Security. However, benefits aren’t necessarily lost just because a marriage ends.

If a marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years, a former spouse may get Social Security benefits on their ex’s record, even if they remarry. The former spouse must also be at least 62 years of age and have benefits less than what their ex receives. The benefits could be as much as half of the ex’s full retirement amount if collection begins at full retirement age. Benefits could still be collected even if the other spouse has not yet applied for Social Security despite being eligible to do so.

A former spouse generally gives up their rights to receive part of their ex’s benefits if they remarry; although, they’ll be able to collect on a new spouse’s record. Should a new marriage end in death, divorce or annulment, an individual may be able to once again collect from their first spouse’s record. If a former spouse marries and divorces more than once, they could potentially collect on the one ex-spouse’s record that offers the highest benefits.

Because of the possible complications and complexities associated with Social Security and retirement account payouts, a divorce lawyer may recommend bringing in an accountant to identify all available marriage-related assets and potential sources of benefits. This information might be used by the attorney to negotiate a fair divorce settlement. It’s important to remember that the Social Security Administration considers spousal support payments as unearned income to the spouse.


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