Divorce will often have a financial impact of some type for both parties. One thing that it may not impact is your ability to file for Social Security on your ex-spouse’s record. You can file for Social Security benefits under your ex-spouse’s record if you meet the qualifications.
Here is a basic version of the qualification rules:
- Your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.
- You must be 62 or older.
- You can collect on your ex-spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t applied for benefits; however, you must have been divorced for at least two years.
- If your ex-spouse is deceased, you could be entitled to an amount equal to his full benefit minus any reduction for your age. At this point it would become a survivor benefit and you can claim it at age 60, or age 50 if you are disabled.
- If you are claiming on your own record and your ex-spouse dies and the benefit that you would be receiving as a survivor is higher than what you are getting on your own, you can switch.
- If you remarry prior to age 60, you lose the right to claim on an ex-spouse’s record — at least until the subsequent marriage(s) end in death or divorce. If that happens, you can choose the best benefit from your ex-spouses.
- If you remarry after age 60 you are eligible to receive benefits based your former or your current spouse’s record, whichever gets you the most money.
Even if you are divorced, there are still filing strategies that could drastically increase the amount of lifetime benefits you receive. Something like this; at age 66 you file a restricted application for spousal benefits only. This would mean that you would collect 50% of the benefit for which your ex-spouse is entitled. You could take this amount for the next four years until your age 70. During that 4 year period your benefit amount was increasing by 8% per year. At age 70, you claim that higher benefit based on your own account – an increase of 32%! I have seen cases where this strategy could potentially increase the lifetime benefit amount by more than $100,000. However, this strategy works best when both spouses were entitled to benefits based on their own work records.
Whether you use the advanced filing strategies or not, you should seek out qualified advice prior to filing for Social Security benefits. If you would like to talk to me please feel free to call my office. If you are in the Texarkana area and would rather meet with me face to face I would be happy to schedule a consultation as well. For more information please visit my website at www.carrollinvestmentmanagement.com or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions voiced in this material are for are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.