Divorce is always stressful, but couples who divorce at an advanced age experience an additional set of complications. Simply put, older divorcees possess less time and opportunity to recoup any financial losses that result from divorce. This fact can cause Social Security benefits to take on increased importance to people who divorce near or in retirement.
Family law professionals explain that many divorcees make poor decisions regarding Social Security benefits as a result of bad information. Common Social Security myths that have influenced the decisions of divorcees include the following:
• A remarried ex-spouse cannot file for benefits on divorced wage earner.
• An ex-spouse will know when a claim is filed on his or her wages.
• A divorced spouse is entitled to all the Social Security benefits of their ex-spouse.
• A divorcee is entitled to complete benefits from their earnings and half of what is due to their ex-spouse.
The above list represents a few of the commonly communicated myths surrounding Social Security benefits and the divorce process. Individuals who are interested in the correct information regarding divorcees and SSI benefits can start with the fact that 10 years of marriage is necessary before these benefits become relevant to a divorce.
It is important to understand that a current and ex-spouse can receive benefits from a single wage earner at the same time. In addition to being eligible for benefits based on the earnings record of a spouse who has remarried, divorcees do not have to divide benefits with subsequent spouses of their ex.
Social Security provides older divorcees with two types of benefits. These include standard Social Security benefits while the wage earner is alive and survivor benefits after the wage earner is deceased. The rules for these benefit types can differ slightly.
The regulations regarding Social Security benefits for divorcees can be complex and difficult to navigate for individuals unfamiliar with the process. Individuals with questions regarding how Social Security benefits affect the divorce process may benefit from a discussion with a divorce attorney.