Managing Social Security payments and divorce

Most Florida couples who get a divorce do so before Social Security pays out. However, your ex-spouse can claim your Social Security retirement benefits and vice versa, depending on how long you were married and if they have their own benefits.

How does Social Security pay out after a divorce?

Most of the time, spouses are entitled to the other’s Social Security benefits – especially if they don’t have their own account to turn to. After a divorce, a former spouse may claim Social Security benefits based on the other party’s earnings history under a few conditions:

  • They haven’t remarried
  • They were married to you for at least 10 years
  • Two years have passed since the divorce was finalized.

Former spouses can qualify for up to 50% of the benefit once both parties are eligible to start collecting. The idea is that the former spouse was supporting you during that work time, so they’re eligible.

Does an ex-spouse claiming the benefit reduce the original benefactor?

There’s a common misconception that claiming your former spouse’s Social Security benefit will reduce their checks. This isn’t true. It will have no effect whatsoever on their entitlements.

The person needs to be eligible for payouts from their Social Security account in order for the former spouse to claim the benefit. And again, the former spouse cannot claim their partner’s benefit if they already have one that would pay out higher.

Does Social Security need to be addressed during the divorce?

Since Social Security payouts and benefits are managed entirely by the Social Security Administration, it’s rare that the issue is addressed during divorce proceedings. However, it is something that you should think about.
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