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3 Things to Know About Social Security Divorced – The Motley Fool

Did you know Social Security spousal benefits extend to certain ex-spouses who have divorced?

Social Security benefits currently provide half or more of the income received in retirement for 69% of unmarried Americans and 48% of married couples , according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

 Bride and groom facing away from each other.

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Divorced after 10 years and single? You may be eligible for spousal benefits

You may be eligible for a spousal benefit if you are currently single but were divorced after 1

0 years of marriage or more. You may be entitled to claim Social Security spousal benefits on your ex-partner's work record. For you to do so, you must be eligible for Social Security, and must be at least 62 years of age.

Although people become eligible to receive Social Security at 62, it is possible that your ex may not choose to start receiving benefits then. Why? Because recipients receive roughly 8% more in Social Security benefits for every year they receive benefits between 62 and the age of 70. Do not reach full retirement age (FRA) until sometime between the age of 65 (for those born in 1937 or before and 67 (for those born in 1960 and later), with incremental hikes for those born between those years.

But whether your ex is receiving social security or not is a concern to you as a divorced spouse. As long as your ex-spouse qualifies for benefits and is 62 or older, you may be eligible for spousal benefits, whether your ex is receiving them or not. Your ex-spouse's marital status doesn't matter. They can be remarried, divorced again, or have stayed single – it has no bearing on your ability to file, or how much it will be. Nor will your claim have any effect on the amount of your ex's benefits. If they have remarried, the new partner's potential benefits are not affected either.

If your ex has not yet applied for Social Security benefits, however, there is a requirement that you need to have been divorced a minimum of two years to receive the benefit.

So far, so clear. But there are three important things to know if you meet those qualifications.

Three important requirements

  1. You cannot claim spousal benefits if you are remarried. , As marriage claim and claim and claim, claim, you can claim spousal benefits from a divorced partner, as long as the marriage lasts at least 10 years.
  2. You need to apply for spousal benefits

How are social security benefits calculated?

So how do you know whether your benefit would be less than the benefit you'd receive from claiming your ex's work record? First you need to find your own amount, which the SSA calculates based on two things: your work history and your earnings history.

To receive Social Security, people need a work history in which they accrue a total of 40 lifetime work credits. A work credit is a metric based on income. Last year, for example, workers earned one lifetime work credit for every $ 1,320 they earned. That's going to be this year: workers will earn one lifetime work credit for every $ 1,360 earned.

Even if someone brings home a cool million a year, though, they can earn the entire 40 work credits in a year. In fact, one can earn in one year.

Once you qualify for the work credits, your earnings history kicks in to determine the amount you're entitled to. The SSA calculates benefits on the highest-earning, inflation-adjusted years. If you have worked less than 35 years, $ 0 has been charged into the monthly payout calculations for each year under 35.

How are social security benefits calculated?

Now, those calculations are for an individual receiving Social Security. A spousal benefit can be determined after computing both your work history and earnings history, as well as your ex's work history and earnings history.

If you qualify, the benefit for a divorced spouse is 50% of your ex's full retirement amount if you start taking benefits at your FRA. So if your ex is eligible for $ 2,000 every month in Social Security benefits, you'd receive $ 1,000. If your ex-retirement benefits their FRA, they will not be applied to your spousal benefit.

What if you're eligible for your own work and earnings history and your ex's? Do you have to select which one to claim on? No. The SSA will pay your own retirement benefit first and then the computing your potential benefit from your work and earnings history. Once it has both, the SSA will have the benefit so you receive the higher amount.

People who are eligible for both, have hit their FRA, and have a birthday prior to January 2, 1954 have an important option to maximize their Social Security benefits too: You can decide on the benefit of divorced spouses and delay taking your own. That way you can get the 8% yearly hike in your potential benefit amount between your FRA and 70.

But if your birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, that choice has been phased out unfortunately. By filing for either retirement or spousal benefits, you'll be counting on the SSA to file for all Social Security benefits for which you are eligible.

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