How Getting a Divorce Could Affect Social Security Benefits

a couple signing divorce papersOne of the most common concerns that could keep some couples from getting a divorce is how it would impact their finances. This concern is particularly true for the stay-at-home spouse or the spouse that’s not the breadwinner. Just as it is with younger spouses contemplating divorce and are worrying how they could fend for themselves without financial help from their spouse, older spouses also worry about what might happen to their Social Security benefits, especially if this is a huge chunk of their income.

How will a divorce impact you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits? Would it matter if the benefits you’re receiving are for disability or retirement? An experienced divorce attorney in Castle Rock shares some insights.

Social Security Disability and Retirement Benefits

You might be entitled to half of the retirement benefits of your spouse when you get a divorce, depending on where you and your spouse reside—more specifically, half of the money that you two put into a retirement fund when you were married. In states that follow the community property rule, all property the couple amassed during their marriage, which includes Social Security retirement funds and SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance, would be divided equally.

In states that follow the equitable distribution rule, however, Social Security benefits are not considered marital assets, and therefore, can’t be divided equally between spouses. Considering that your state is a community property state, in order for you to share part of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, you should have been married for 10 years minimum, be 62 years old or older, and your ex-spouse should be currently receiving or are entitled to receive Social Security benefits.

What About Death and Remarriage?

In the event that you remarry, you won’t be able to collect on your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, unless your remarriage also ends either due to annulment, divorce, or death. Likewise, in the event of your ex-spouse’s death, you might still qualify for benefits if your marriage to your deceased ex-spouse lasted for more than 10 years. Additionally, the benefits you receive won’t affect the benefit amounts of your deceased ex-spouse.

Getting divorced, particularly in the later years of your life, could pose all sorts of emotional, legal, and financial issues. Whether you’re uncertain if a divorce is right for you or you’ve decided to go ahead a get a divorce, discuss your case with an experienced divorce attorney.