The laws that govern Social Security benefits can be difficult for most people to understand. A recent study conducted by the AARP and the Financial Planning Association tested the public’s understanding of Social Security benefits. The results of the study indicate a gap in what Americans think they know and what they actually know about this very important topic, especially when it comes to Social Security benefits for divorced spouses.
The most basic rule governing divorced spouses’ eligibility for benefits involves the length of time the marriage lasted. Benefits are available to unmarried ex-spouses as long as the marriage lasted ten or more years, but 34% of the survey participants thought that a divorced spouse could collect benefits from their ex’s work record if they were married five years or less. Only 26% of married or previously married respondents were able to correctly identify the ten-year minimum. Perhaps even more concerning, 31% believed that they could never collect Social Security benefits based on their former spouse’s earnings – meaning there may be a lot of money being left on the table for those without proper representation during their divorce.
The rules regarding Social Security benefits for divorced spouses are extremely complex and involve numerous exceptions. For example, a divorced spouse who remarries generally loses their right to collect on their former spouse’s benefits unless that subsequent marriage ends in death or divorce; but in the event that the former spouse dies, the surviving ex-spouse can still collect benefits as long as he or she waits until at least age 60 to remarry.
Another often-misunderstood rule has to do with when an ex-spouse can begin to claim their benefits. Divorced Americans have an advantage over married couples because they are independently entitled to Social Security benefits as long as they have been divorced for at least two years and are 62 years of age or older. This means that a divorced spouse can claim a spousal benefit on the earnings record of their eligible ex-spouse, regardless of whether the former spouse has begun to collect on their own benefits.
Social Security is a key element in planning for your financial future after divorce. Many decisions you make about benefits are irrevocable and mistakes can be costly. For this reason, it is highly advisable to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced divorce attorney familiar with the intricacies of Social Security rules and claiming strategies.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, Are Committed to Protecting Your Financial Future after Divorce
The financial impact of divorce can be overwhelming for those who try to navigate it alone. Our Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles can help you manage the complexities of divorce and secure stable financial future for you and your children. To schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated divorce lawyers in Towson, call 443-589-0150 today or submit an online contact form.