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How Divorce Can Impact Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security Administration Important Information letter next to flag of USA.

Divorce affects more than deciding who gets the house and how child custody should be arranged. Divorce alters your legal status in the eyes of the government, which can have several secondary effects. Divorce affects your tax status and your status as a beneficiary to life insurance or health insurance policies, and it might even affect your retirement benefits. If you receive Social Security benefits, or your current/former spouse receives Social Security benefits, divorce can affect your rights. Read on to learn about how divorce affects Social Security benefits in New Jersey, and if you are considering separation or divorce, call an experienced New Jersey divorce and retirement asset attorney for advice and representation.

Divorcées Can Recover Former Spouse’s Social Security Benefits

If you were married and your spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits, you might still collect a portion of their benefits. Likewise, if you are divorced and receiving Social Security benefits, your ex could be entitled to a portion.

If you are the former spouse of a party entitled to receive Social Security benefits, you can collect a portion of those benefits so long as the following is true:

  • Your marriage lasted ten years or longer
  • You are aged 62 or older
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and
  • If you are also entitled to receive Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record, the amount to which you are entitled is less than the benefits you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record

You need not wait until your ex starts receiving Social Security benefits to apply to receive a portion of their entitlement. If you’ve been divorced for at least two years and the other requirements have been met, you can apply for benefits even if your ex has not yet applied for benefits. Additionally, if you have shared minor or disabled children, you could be entitled to benefits even if you are under the age of 62.

How Much of My Spouse’s Social Security Benefits Can I Receive?

Your benefits depend on your age at the time you apply as well as your own earnings record and eligibility. If you are already at full retirement age when you apply for benefits, you can get up to 50% of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefits. If you apply when you are between age 62 and your full retirement age, your percentage will be permanently reduced based on the number of months remaining until your full retirement age.

If you are entitled to receive your own Social Security benefits, you’ll get those amounts paid first and then receive an additional amount based on your ex’s earnings record. The total amount you receive will be equal to the higher amount to which you are entitled based on your ex-spouse (i.e., you cannot double-collect). Your benefits may be reduced by other factors as well, including government pensions and other income you are still earning. If you remarry, then you cannot collect your ex-spouse’s benefits unless your current marriage ends. If your ex-spouse dies and you were married at least ten years, you might still be entitled to survivor’s benefits. An experienced divorce and Social Security benefits lawyer can help you understand your rights and maximize your benefits.

Call for Trusted Advice and Zealous Representation for Your New Jersey Separation or Divorce

If you need dedicated legal help with divorce-related retirement benefits, child custody, separation, divorce, divorce tax issues, child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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