Seven Common Misconceptions About Social Security and Divorce

social security divorce

Our last blog post focused on six common negotiation pitfalls that can occur while trying to settle your divorce case.  Today we discuss some common misconceptions about Social Security and Divorce.

1. If my former spouse claims under my benefits, it will reduce my check.

A number of clients come into the office believing that his or her soon to be ex-spouse can influence their Social Security Benefits.  This is completely false.  Claiming based on your former spouse’s record has no impact on the benefit received by your former spouse.  Also, if your former spouse has remarried, his or her current spouse’s benefits are not affected either.

2. The divorce judgment needs to ban my former spouse from claiming under my benefit.

This, too, is false.  As long as you were married at least ten years, such a provision in your divorce judgment is worthless and never enforced by the Social Security Administration.

3. I need my ex-spouse’s permission to claim under his or her benefits.

This, too, is false.  The Social Security Administration does not contact your ex-spouse upon receiving your application.  Rather, you would provide Social Security with the information needed to locate your ex-spouse’s record.

4. I can’t receive benefits until my former spouse starts to receive benefits.

This is incorrect.  To receive benefits under your former spouse’s record, your former spouse only needs to be eligible to receive benefits.  To be eligible, your former spouse needs to be at least sixty-two years of age with a minimum of forty work credits.  So, as long as you are at least sixty-two years of age and your former spouse is eligible to receive benefits, you can apply under their record.

5. You get to choose between your benefit and your former spouse’s benefit.

This is false.  You don’t get to choose.  Rather, when you apply for Social Security, you will receive whichever benefit is higher.

6. I can receive a delayed retirement credit by claiming my spouse’s record.

This is incorrect.  You can receive an 8% delayed retirement credit for every year you hold off on delaying benefits past your full retirement age until you are seventy years of age.  However, this does not occur when you are taking benefits under your former spouse’s record.

7. I can claim using my former spouse’s record and then switch to my benefit later on.

This is partially true.  You may be able to file a restricted application for Social Security to claim your former spouse’s benefits and then switch over to your own higher benefit after you reach full retirement age.  However, this would only apply if you were born on or before January 2, 1954.

Should you need the advice of a divorce attorney or have questions or concerns about your situation, know that we are here to help and discuss those issues with you.

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