Too many people getting a divorce in Illinois fail to consider how Social Security benefits are handled until after the divorce is over. Because Social Security law is complex and not subject to division as part of the asset division process, it is easy to overlook.
However, many people are entitled to Social Security benefits according to their former spouse’s work history. If you are getting divorced, you will likely want to understand how federal law provides for situations in which divorcees can obtain Social Security benefits so you do not miss out on money to which you are entitled.
When Can a Divorcee Qualify for Spousal Social Security Benefits?
Because spousal benefits are not automatically given to former spouses, you must apply to receive benefits through the Social Security Administration. No matter which state you live in, Social Security benefits are decided according to federal law. The federal government considers several factors when determining benefit eligibility for divorcees:
- Your Personal Benefits - It is impossible to collect federal benefits for two people at the same time. Instead, the government will look at your age-based or disability benefits and your spouse's benefits and allow you to collect the greater of the two.
- Age - You and your former spouse must be at least 62, even if they are not collecting their benefits yet. Collecting benefits through your former spouse does not affect their benefits or obligate them to begin collecting their own.
- Marriage and Relationship Status - In order to collect your former spouse’s benefits, your marriage with your former spouse must have lasted ten years or more. As of the time you filed for benefits, you must have been divorced from your spouse for at least two years, and you may not be married while collecting.
How Large Will My Social Security Payments Be?
Your benefit amount will depend on the following factors:
- If your former spouse is alive, your payments will depend on the amount of their benefits. For example, if you are at full retirement age, you can receive half the benefit amount your former spouse receives.
- If your former spouse has died, you are also entitled to half of their benefits but you may begin collecting at age 60, rather than waiting to be at full retirement age.
- If you marry someone else before age 60, you may not receive benefits from your former spouse at any time. If you get married after 60, you may.
- If you begin taking payments before full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently reduced.
Speak with a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
Understanding the monetary implications of divorce is a crucial part of your long-term financial well-being. The Kane County divorce attorneys with Shaw Sanders, P.C., have experience helping people like you understand their options under state and federal law. We will advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process and help you plan for life after divorce. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation....