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Do Social Security spousal benefits factor into your divorce agreement?

| Feb 18, 2021 | Family Law |

If you’re ending a long marriage and your retirement years are not so far in the future, you’ll want to work to ensure that your retirement lifestyle isn’t compromised by an unfair settlement with your spouse. That’s particularly true if you haven’t spent as many years in the workplace as your husband or wife or you never reached the earning capacity they did. 

Part of planning for a comfortable life in your senior years as you divorce will involve dividing your retirement and pension accounts. It may also involve spousal support. There’s one other source of income you need to factor in – Social Security spousal benefits.

Some facts about benefits for ex-spouses

There’s a lot of confusion about how Social Security spousal benefits work – particularly if a couple has divorced. Let’s look at a few things you need to know.

  • You must be at least 62 to receive these benefits.
  • Your marriage must have lasted for at least ten years.
  • An ex-spouse is eligible for the same benefits as a current spouse.
  • If you remarry, you are no longer eligible for spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record.
  • You can be entitled to widow’s or widower’s benefits on an ex-spouse’s account.
  • Your entitlement cannot be signed away in a divorce settlement.

If you begin taking spousal benefits before your own full retirement age (as designated by the Social Security Administration based on your year of birth), your monthly payment will be lower than it would be if you waited. Receiving spousal benefits does not impact the amount of Social Security retirement benefits your ex-spouse is able to get, however.

There’s a lot more to know about these benefits, but these are some key points. 

Spousal benefits and alimony

If you’re seeking alimony and you’re nearing or already at the age where you can qualify for Social Security spousal benefits, the amount of money you’ll be entitled to will likely be factored into the support order since it will impact your income.

It may be wise to add a financial advisor to your divorce team. They can help you and your family law attorney work towards a settlement that will leave you in a strong financial position as you embark on single life again.

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