Late-in-life divorces often raise concerns about the division of retirement assets like IRAs, 401(k)s and pensions. Many older couples also wonder about what impact, if any, a divorce will have on their Social Security benefits. It’s a valid concern whether you are getting a divorce now, or you were divorced decades ago.
Because so many women have been in the workforce now for several decades, most can qualify for Social Security benefits on their own records. In order to receive Social Security benefits on your own record, you must have 40 work credits, which is equivalent to 10 years of working. The benefit amounts are calculated based on up to 35 years of income that has been adjusted for inflation and vary considerably from person to person. The average Social Security benefits check in 2017 was $1,360 per month.
To maximize your Social Security benefit, you need to wait until you reach full retirement age before filing a claim. For those born after 1943, that age is between 66 and 67:
|Birth year||Full retirement age|
|1955||66 years, 2 months|
|1956||66 years, 4 months|
|1957||66 years, 6 months|
|1958||66 years, 8 months|
|1959||66 years, 10 months|
|1960 or later||67 years|
If you wait to make a claim on your ex’s work record until you reach full retirement age, you can receive up to 50% of his or her full retirement amount. If you need to make a claim before full retirement age, you will receive a permanently reduced spousal benefit.
Spousal benefits and divorce
No matter when you are divorced, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record if you meet the following requirements:
- You must be unmarried
- You must be 62 or older
- Your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security benefits
- Your own work record benefit must be less than the benefit you’d receive on your ex-spouse’s work record.
If you have remarried, you cannot claim spousal benefits unless that remarriage ended in divorce, annulment or death.
It’s important to note that your ex does not have to begin collecting benefits before you can file for your own on his or her work record. However, you must have been divorced for at least two years to make a claim.
Finally, you should know that if you have an ex-spouse who is making a claim on your work record, it does not reduce your own Social Security benefits.
By handling cases with the dignity and respect they deserve, we have helped many families in New Jersey civilly resolve their divorce, rebuild a satisfying life, and confidently step into the next chapter of their lives. Contact us today for your free consultation.