If you and your spouse have been married for greater than 10 years, you may be eligible to claim social security benefits under your former spouse’s work record.

This can be a significant benefit to the spouse who spent significant time out of the workforce and can play a key role in their retirement planning strategy.

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).

Additionally, there are special considerations for those whose ex-spouse receive a pension from a government job in which they did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset (“GPO”). The GPO reduces the amount of your Social Security spouse's, widow's, or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension.

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 professionals, 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 our in Sioux City law firm, Sioux Falls law firm, or Omaha law firm.


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