How do You Get Social Security Benefits After a Divorce?

Know More  
Mar 26, 2018

Learn About Social Security Benefits After A Divorce In Naperville

If you are already divorced or are considering getting a divorce, you may still qualify for Social Security benefits that your former spouse. Social Security benefits after a divorce can be a complex topic, so here at Grunyk Family Law, we wanted to answer some of the most common questions we receive concerning this aspect of divorce.

Our trained and experienced divorce attorneys will be able to review your case and help you through the process of filing for benefits and maximizing your eligibility, no matter what your unique situation is like.

Q: I was told that as a divorced woman, I can get Social Security income based on the work record of my ex-spouse: is that true?

A: Yes, it’s true — you may be able to use your ex-spouse’s work record to claim Social Security benefits. Social Security is set up in such a way that a divorced person may be entitled to personal benefits after being married to the spouse for a set amount of time and after dedicating years of their life to that marriage and partner’s success. The benefit is not all that different from the benefits a spouse gets if they are still married. Whether your ex is alive or deceased will impact filing for your benefits.

Q: My ex is still living, so how do I file for Social Security benefits in this situation?

A: Basically, you are allowed to use your ex-spouse’s work record to claim Social Security benefits through your former spouse if the following three criteria are met:

  • You and your spouse were legally married for 10 or more years

  • You are unmarried at the time of your filing

  • You are 62 years of age or older

However, it will not always be the case that filing under your former spouse’s benefits will get you the most money. Your own Social Security benefits will need to be considered, and you will only be able to claim your former spouse’s work benefits if his or her benefits end up being more than yours. You collect whichever benefits are higher. You cannot collect both. Also, it doesn’t matter if your ex-spouse has remarried.

There is a criteria test for your ex-spouse to pass as well. He or she must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. If your former spouse is deemed eligible, even if he or she has not started claiming those benefits for himself or herself, you can begin to claim those benefits for yourself so long as you both have been divorced for a minimum of two years.

Q: So how much are the Social Security benefits I can get from my husband worth?

A: The answer to this question depends on how much your ex-spouse qualifies for. The final amount you will get in benefits will be based on how much your former spouse worked and earned.

Q: My ex-wife was the primary source of income for us while we were married but we divorced five years ago and she died two years ago- can I still get Social Security benefits based off her work records?

A: You may be eligible, but you would have to meet the following conditions:

  • You’re at least 60 years of age or at least 50 years of age if you’re disabled

  • The marriage to your ex-spouse lasted 10 years or more

  • Your own retirement benefit is lower than what your former spouse’s benefits would be

And of course, as it is with most legal matters, there’s a special twist that needs to be taken into account concerning your current marital status. If you remarry before the age designation listed above, you will not be eligible to claim benefits from your deceased ex-spouse’s Social Security. However, if you remarry after the age markers listed above, you can file a claim for benefits. This is an example of how quickly figuring out Social Security benefits after a divorce can become tricky and why our team is committed to helping our clients maximize their benefits.

Q: What if there are children involved in my Social Security benefits claim from my ex?

A: You can use an ex-spouse’s record to file for Social Security benefits at any age with very little limitations or required criteria if you are the one caring for that ex-spouse’s child who is under the age of 16 or if the child is disabled and who is that spouse’s legal child. Your benefits will continue until the child reaches 16 years of age or is no longer disabled. Unlike most other situations involving Social Security benefits after a divorce, you can claim benefits even if your marriage lasted less than 10 years. Finalizing a divorce before 10 years n in this situation will not penalize your claim. Our team of experts here at Grunyk Family Law can help you make sense of it all!

Q: In my case, my husband has another ex besides me, so are we fighting for the same share of his SS benefits?

A: No. With the way that Social Security is structured and set up, it doesn’t matter how many ex-spouses can claim the benefit, and it makes no difference who gets there first. So long as you individually meet the necessary requirements, you can have a claim to the allowed benefit amount. Any other former spouses your husband can also do the same. There is no concern about one of you filing first and getting a bigger share of the benefits.

Q: So, how do I actually file a claim to collect an ex-spouse’s benefit?

A: You can visit the Social Security Administration website or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You will need to be prepared to prove your legal rights to the claim and will be asked for things such as marriage information, Social Security numbers, divorce information, family situation and other information that will be used to help establish that you have a valid claim to the funds. From there the Social Security Administration will tell you the steps involved. If you are trying to claim your ex’s Social Security benefits after a divorce it can be a complicated process, and it is often advised to have an attorney experienced in Social Security claims assist you through the process.

Whether you are still considering the pros and cons of getting a divorce or need help with more complicated issues, give us a call and let us help make the process easier. Grunyk Family Law is here to put our years of experience to work and are committed to representing you and fighting for your rights. Give us a call and let us help you with any and all divorce-related questions or needs that you may have!

Map & Directions