Social Security benefits and divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2022 | Divorce & Legal Separation |

Some California residents might realize that they no longer want to stay in their marriage just as they begin getting closer to retirement. This is more common than many people realize, as the divorce rate for older people has continued rising. One of the concerns is how this will affect retirement and Social Security benefits. The good news is that you can collect Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s record if you meet certain specific criteria.

Collecting from your own or your ex-spouse’s record

After your divorce, you can collect Social Security benefits based on your own work record or your ex-spouse’s record, but not both. If you collect based on your ex-spouse’s record, you can receive 50% of their monthly benefit while if you collect based on your record, you can claim the full 100%. Which you choose, of course, will depend on which benefit will yield the highest payment for you.

The criteria to collect from an ex-spouse’s record

If you are considering claiming benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, you need to make sure you meet the base criteria. The requirements you must meet include:

  • Having been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years
  • Not remarrying
  • Having reached the age of 62
  • Being eligible for retirement benefits or disability benefits

What about the death benefit?

You might be able to claim the death benefit if your ex-spouse dies if you had been married for at least 10 years. You would also need to meet other criteria, such as not having remarried before age 60. However, you would receive this benefit, which could be as high as 100% of the spouse’s monthly benefit, for life.