What Happens to Social Security Benefits after a Divorce?

When your Social Security benefits are based on your work history, divorce does not affect the benefits you receive or plan to receive. However, if your retirement benefits are based on your former spouse’s work history, you will only be eligible to receive these benefits after a divorce if you are unmarried, you are 62 years or older, your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits, you were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, and the amount you are entitled to depending on your own work history does not exceed the amount you are entitled to based on your ex-spouse’s history.

If you meet the above requirements, you will be able to successfully apply for Social Security benefits. This is true even if your former spouse has not yet applied for them and you have been divorced for at least two years. It is important to know that your Social Security will not notify your spouse of your application. This application will not affect the amount your ex-spouse will receive. Plus, if your ex-spouse has remarried, the benefits you receive will not impact their new spouse and their ability to receive benefits, if they are eligible.

How are the total benefit amounts determined?

Social Security will consider a few factors when determining the total benefit amount owed to you including the following:

  • Both your work history and your ex-spouse’s work history
  • You will either receive 100% of the benefits based on your own work record or you will receive 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefits depending on which amount is greater

Do I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

You may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits if you or your former spouse meet Social Security’s definition of disabled. However, you will only qualify if you have worked long enough in jobs covered in Social Security. Your divorce will not affect your eligibility to receive benefits if you are receiving SSDI based on your own work record. However, the agency may garnish a portion of your benefits to pay for child support or alimony you may owe after divorce.

You may qualify for benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are unmarried
  • You were married to your ex for at least ten years and are at least 62-years old, or you are caring for your ex-spouse’s natural or legally adopted child under 16 or a disabled child who qualifies for disability benefits under your ex’s work record.

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If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in Rumson, Monmouth County, or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.