Family law practitioners and laypersons need to know how divorce and/or death affect Social Security benefits. Both groups of people should be aware of the fact that Social Security provides spousal benefits to divorced people only if their marriages last at least 10 years. Therefore, if a divorce could be finalized next week, but that date does not quite make the 10 year mark, putting the case into an administrative stay so that the divorce is not entered until the 10 year anniversary mark has been reached can be very beneficial. What many people don't know is this: Collecting ex-spousal benefits does not affect the ex’s benefit or that of their current spouse if remarried. Also, unlike spousal benefits, both ex-spouses can collect this benefit based upon the other’s record at the same time.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), even if you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if your ex-spouse has remarried) if:
- Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
- You are not married;
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
- The benefit that you are entitled to receive as an ex-spouse, is greater than the benefit you would receive based on your own work record; and
- You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
More complete details can be read in this article: Powell, Robert. "How Divorce and Death Affect Social Security Benefits." Market Watch. April 18, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2016. doi:http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-divorce-and-death-affect-social-security-benefits-2016-04-18/