Sharing Social Security Benefits

One financial decision concerning retirement income that is not open for litigation involves Social Security benefits each spouse will receive when they choose to retire. For those who have been married for a minimum of 10 years, federal Social Security law is clear. There are definite established formulas concerning who is eligible for benefits, when they are eligible and the amount they will receive when they decide to begin collecting.

Although the law allowing ex-spouses to collect Social Security benefits under the ex-spouses record was established when fewer women than men were in the workforce, and women often stayed home with young children, it applies to either spouse. An ex-husband has the same rights to collect under his ex-wife’s employment record as an ex-wife has to collect under her ex-husband’s employment record.

All people are eligible to collect Social Security benefits when they reach the age of 62. They also may choose to wait to collect until they reach full retirement age, which may be from age 66 to 70, depending on the person’s year of birth. The longer that people wait to begin collecting benefits, the more money they get per month. There are some exceptions to the age rules, depending on whether an ex-spouse is deceased or whether one of the parties is disabled.

Federal law allows an ex-spouse to collect benefits either under their own employment record or one-half the amount the ex-spouse is entitled to collect, whichever amount is greater. An extra emotional benefit is that the ex-spouse’s own benefits are not diminished in any way. The ex-spouse is not even notified that you are collecting under their record.

Some Criteria to Collect Benefits

  • The marriage must have lasted more than 10 years. This can be met by 10 years and one day. If you have been married more than one time, and each marriage lasted more than 10 years, you can collect under the employment record of the one that provides you the greatest benefit.
  • You must be at last 62 years old.
  • Your ex-spouse upon whose record you want to collect must be at least 62 years old.
  • If your ex has not applied for benefits even though he or she is 62 years old, you may still collect on the ex’s record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

It is important for your Las Vegas divorce attorney to take into account your ability to collect Social Security benefits in the future no matter what your age is at the time of the divorce. A divorce that is final even one day before the ten year mark will make it impossible for you to collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s employment record when you reach the age of 62.