Social Security Benefits After Divorce

Divorce can be complicated, right?  Legal and financial decisions framed in unfamiliar terms can overwhelm even the most prepared and savvy person.  Now to add one more item to your list of things you probably need to learn more about:  social security benefits.

As a divorced spouse, you may be eligible to receive social security income benefits based on your ex-husband’s (or ex-wife’s) income.  Many baby boomers may find themselves at the time of divorce with substantially different career and earning histories than their spouses.  Making sure you understand the benefits you qualify for can change your long term retirement planning for the better, sometimes substantially better.

My suggestion is to visit the social security administration office in your area before you divorce and certainly before you remarry.  If you have completed the divorce, take a copy of your divorce decree with you along with both your and your ex-husband’s social security numbers.  The representative there can help you determine the benefit level you qualify for based on several factors including the number of years you were married, your earning history, your ex-husband’s earning history, your current marital status, when you claim benefits, etc.

If your ex-husband has passed away, you may still be eligible for compensation under his record.  There is no online access to this information.  Be sure to investigate this for yourself; don’t rely on what you think you know.  Many people understand that remarrying can negate your claim to your ex-husband’s benefits but this is not always the case.  There are numerous circumstances that often seem to defy logic, so making an exploratory trip to the social security administration office well worth the effort.  The information you gain could prove quite valuable to your future.