Entitlement to an ex-spouse’s Social Security

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2020 | Family Law |

Tennessee divorcees who are not currently married may not know that they could be entitled to a portion of their ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. This may help an individual claim benefits based on a higher-earning ex-spouse’s work record, provided the couple was married for at least 10 years.

To claim a portion of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, a divorcee must be at least 62 years old. To get the full benefit amount to which a person is entitled, the person must wait to withdraw benefits until reaching full retirement age, which is 66 or 67 depending on date of birth. Additionally, unless a divorce has been final for at least two years, a person seeking benefits will have to wait until the ex-spouse claims his or her own benefits before receiving anything.

The maximum amount of an ex-spouse’s benefits to which a person may be entitled is 50%. Individuals can receive the greater of their own benefit amount and the amount of the portion of their ex-spouses’ benefits to which they are entitled but not both. Additionally, individuals have to pull from their own Social Security benefits before supplementing them with an ex-spouse’s benefits. For instance, if an individual is entitled to $500 per month based on his or her own work history and $600 as his or her portion of the ex-spouse’s benefits, the total benefits will be $600 with $100 being taken from the ex-spouse’s benefits.

People who are not aware of their benefits entitlement may inadvertently reach a divorce settlement that precludes them from these benefits. It may be a good idea for individuals to consult with a family law attorney when negotiating and preparing a divorce settlement.