How Can I Secure My Former Spouse’s Social Security Benefits?
Are you wondering how you can secure the Social Security benefits of your former spouse? Our family attorney in Miami gives you an expert guide.
Am I Eligible to Collect Social Security Benefits?
Were you born before or on Jan. 1, 1954, and are now divorced? Did your former marriage last for a minimum of 10 years? Have you chosen not to remarry? If you answered yes to all three questions, you could be eligible for Social Security benefits. The government bases the benefits on the earnings record of your former husband or wife. This can be very beneficial to anyone who has minimal qualifying earnings in his or her lifetime.
It’s important to note you must remain unmarried to be able to claim these benefits. Anyone who has remarried since his or her divorce is ineligible. Also, if you remarry after you have been receiving Social Security benefits, you will negate your eligibility.
If you’re eligible to receive benefits based on the record of your ex-spouse, there will be no impact. Your ex-husband or wife will still continue to receive the same amount of benefits. His or her current spouse, if any, will not have his or her benefits affected either.
Your ex-husband or wife must have been working long enough to be eligible to receive Social Security. He or she must also be 62 or older. This is the youngest age at which you can receive retirement Social Security benefits.
How Much Can I Receive in Benefits?
There is a maximum Social Security benefit you can receive based on your ex-spouse’s record. It’s equivalent to half the amount your ex-husband or wife would receive when he or she reaches full retirement age. This will vary depending on which year he or she was born in. The spousal amount of benefit will be further reduced if you’re filing before reaching full retirement age yourself.
If you know how much your ex-spouse earned and his or her birthdate, you can estimate the benefits. There are Social Security calculators that allow you to do this. However, to find a definite figure, you’ll need to know the amount of your ex-spouse’s primary insurance. This is the total amount of benefit he or she will receive when he or she reaches full retirement age.
When filing to receive Social Security benefits, the administration will automatically decide the amount to give you. This will be the largest of either your ex-spousal benefit or your own. You have no right to choose which you receive.
What Happens If I Wait Until I Reach My Full Retirement Age?
If you don’t file for benefits until you’ve reached full retirement age, you can choose to file a restricted application. This means you’ll only receive your ex-spousal benefit. Your own amount of benefits will carry on accumulating retirement credits delayed from the date you reach full retirement age. They will continue accumulating until you are 70. Once you reach 70, you can, then, change to receiving your own amount of benefits. If you’re older than your ex-spouse, you have another option. You’re able to collect your own benefit amount when you reach the age of eligibility. Then, once your ex-spouse becomes eligible, you can change to collect on his or hers.
What If I Am Still Working?
Are you working and collecting any type of benefits before you reach full retirement age? If so, you might have to pay back some benefits. This happens if you earn more than the allowed earnings limit for Social Security. After reaching full retirement age, the earnings limit is no longer applicable. Therefore, you’re able to have any amount of earnings and still receive all your benefits.
Seeking Further Advice
If you need more information about collecting your former spouse’s Social Security benefits, contact our team today. As a leading family lawyer in Miami, FL, Thomas McDonald can offer you expert advice in this field of law.