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What everyone should know about Social Security and divorce

For many people, Social Security is an important source of income in their golden years. However, some miss out on it because they fail to collect Social Security benefits from a former spouse. 

Certain criteria need to be present for you to receive benefits from a former spouse. Even if you will not be eligible to receive these benefits for many years, it is vital to keep them in mind during the divorce process now. 

Knowing eligibility

Although a former spouse qualifies for Social Security benefits, it does not necessarily mean you will automatically receive benefits. For starters, the marriage needed to last for at least 10 years. Many couples will remain in a marriage for a full decade knowing they will receive Social Security benefits down the line. Additionally, you need to be at least 62 years old to apply. However, you only need to be 50 if you have a disability. 

Seeing how much money you qualify for

As long as your former spouse is alive, you will be eligible to receive half of the amount of Social Security benefits the former spouse receives. This is not half of his or her benefits, but rather, the amount equals half the amount he or she receives. In the event the former spouse passes away, then you would receive the full amount.

Your former spouse may have re-married between your divorce and his or her death. The new spouse receiving benefits will not impact the amount you receive. If you remarry before the age of 60, then you cannot collect benefits. It is for this reason many divorcees weigh the pros and cons of marrying again later in life.

Remembering your spouse can apply for your Social Security benefits

Social Security works both ways. Although you may be able to apply or benefits under your former spouse's plan, your spouse may be able to do the same. This will not affect the amount that you receive.

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