With the constant media attention on the lack of personal savings for retirement, and the ever increasing costs of health care as a major concern for retirees, it is understandable that individuals would be nervous about their retirement strategy.

If you are faced with the challenges of a divorce, and the financial repercussions associated therewith, retirement planning can become even more challenging. An important piece of the retirement puzzle for many individuals is Social Security. In some instances, a divorce could have a significant impact on the Social Security Benefits claimed.

When looking at the conditions of a divorce that make Social Security benefits a potential issue, the first thing to look at is the length of the marriage. If your marriage lasted at least ten years, you may ultimately be eligible to claim Social Security Benefits on your ex-spouses Social Security record. This holds true even if your ex-spouse has remarried.

In addition to the requirement to have been married for 10 years, you must also meet the following requirements in order to receive Social Security Benefits based on your ex-spouses Social Security record:

  • You are unmarried;
  • You are age 62 or older;
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement (or disability benefits); and
  • The benefit you are entitled to received based on your own work record is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work record.

If you meet all of the requirements outlined above, you may be eligible to claim Social Security Benefits under your ex-spouse’s work record. However, it is also important to note that if you ultimately re-marry following your divorce you will be ineligible to claim Social Security Benefits under your ex-spouses work record (note that if the new marriage ends, regardless of whether it ends as a result of death, divorce or annulment, you may be eligible to again claim Social Security Benefits based off of your prior ex-spouses work record).

There are additional considerations concerning an individual’s eligibility to claim Social Security Benefits base upon their ex-spouse’s work record that must be considered. For a more comprehensive review of this issues visit the Social Security Administration’s webpage. If you are looking to end a marriage (or have already ended a marriage) that was 10 years in length, be sure to review your Social Security Benefits claiming strategies with the appropriate professions, to include your financial advisor and divorce attorney. For more information on this topic, and all your family law needs, contact Goosmann Law Firm or stop by one of our three locations in Sioux City, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; or Omaha, Nebraska. 


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