Social Security spousal benefits and divorce

More Minnesota couples are getting divorced later in life when Social Security retirement benefits are a pertinent issue. Although the rules that govern Social Security benefits are complicated, most married people are aware that a lower-earning spouse can claim spousal benefits based on the higher-earning spouse's earnings. After a divorce, the lower-earning ex-spouse may still be allowed to claim spousal benefits on their ex-spouse's earnings.

The length of marriage is an important factor in determining whether a divorced person can claim spousal benefits. To remain eligible for spousal benefits, a divorced person must have been married for at least 10 years. The divorce must be two years old before a person can file a claim for Social Security spousal benefits.

In most cases, people cannot continue to claim spousal benefits from an ex-spouse's earnings after they remarry. However, they may continue to claim spousal benefits if they remarry after age 60 and their ex-spouse has died. People who have two ex-spouses when they reach retirement age may be able to claim spousal benefits on either of their ex-spouse's earnings. To claim spousal benefits, they must make sure that the former spouse was eligible for Social Security benefits.

When a couple who is having marital troubles is reaching the 10-year mark, these rules may make it advisable to wait until that milestone is reached before deciding to file. Although Social Security benefits are unlikely to be a consideration in a high asset divorce, family law attorneys may recommend taking advantage of the spousal benefit rule anyway.

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