Social Security Benefits & Divorce

You've probably heard about "long-term marriages" or marriages of long-duration. These are usually marriages that last 10 years or longer. If you've been married for over nine years and you're contemplating divorce, it may be worth it for you to stick it out until you've reached the 10-year mark. One reason is Social Security benefits.

If you are married to your spouse for at least 10 years and you get a divorce, you may be able to receive Social Security benefits on your former spouse's earning record, even if he or she remarries.

To qualify for benefits on your former spouse's record:

  • You must be unmarried,
  • You have to be at least 62 or older,
  • Your former spouse must be entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits, and
  • Your Social Security benefit based on your work record must be less than the benefit you would receive under your former spouse's work record.

Receiving Benefits As a Divorced Spouse

"What if I decide to remarry? Can I still collect on my former spouse's record?" If you get married again, you cannot collect Social Security retirement benefits on your ex's work record unless your new marriage ends by annulment, divorce, or death.

"What if my former spouse has not applied for their retirement benefits?" Assuming your former spouse qualifies for benefits, you can receive benefits under their record as long as you've been divorced for at least two years.

Related: Is Spousal Maintenance Guaranteed in New York?

Suppose you have reached full retirement age and you qualify for retirement benefits under your own work record and divorced spouse's benefits. In this situation, the Social Security Administration will pay your retirement benefit first.

However, if the benefit on your former spouse's record is higher than yours, the SSA would give you the additional amount from your ex's record so the combination of benefits totals the higher amount.

Looking for a Long Island divorce lawyer? Contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. for a free case evaluation.