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Collecting Social Security using an ex-spouse’s work record

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2023 | Blog, Divorce

When you divorce your New Jersey husband or wife later on in life, you may worry more about having enough to get by on during retirement than younger individuals navigating divorce. Your retirement picture is undoubtedly going to look much different when you end your marriage. However, you may, depending on the specifics of your situation, be able to take advantage of something called a Social Security spousal benefit.

According to CNBC, an estimated 30% of Americans have no idea that they may be able to get Social Security retirement payments based on the earnings record of their ex-husbands or ex-wives.

Who is eligible to claim spousal benefits

The main factor that determines if you may collect Social Security retirement benefits using your former spouse’s work history is how long your marriage lasted. To be eligible to do this, your marriage to an individual who qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits must have lasted 10 years or more.

When it makes financial sense to claim spousal benefits

If you spent time working a job that paid into the Social Security system before sacrificing your career to help support your spouse or family, you may also qualify for Social Security retirement payments because of your own earnings. How much you might get each month depends on how long you spent in a position that paid into the Social Security system. However, if you take spousal benefits, rather than collect them based on your own work history, you may only get, at most, half of the amount your ex-husband or ex-wife gets each month.

Thus, it makes sense to do some computations and figure out which option might put more money in your pocket each month after retirement.