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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Social Security Assistance for Low-Income Former Spouses

Worries about finances typically go hand in hand when one begins the divorce process.  Most couples experience serious financial concerns when looking at maintaining two separate residences with the income that once only supported a single marital household.  

During the divorce process, the “we” becomes “only me” and everything from retirement assets to the kitchen pots and pans are divvied up during the settlement process.  Typically, this means a much leaner financial lifestyle for the spouse that wasn’t the earner, at least for a transitional period.  Financial concerns are especially immediate for those who divorce later in life and who haven’t regularly earned income during the marriage.

However, the Social Security Administration may offer a silver lining to those who earn considerably less than their former spouses.  There is the possibility that a low-earner may be able to collect Social Security benefits based on the higher earnings of their former spouse.  The best part is that doing so does not impact your former spouse’s ability to collect their benefits.

In order to collect benefits based on your ex-spouses earnings, the following eligibility requirements must be met:
  • You were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years and you are at least 62 years old.
  • You have not remarried.  If you do remarry, you are no longer eligible to receive social security benefits based upon the earnings of a former spouse.
  • The amount you would receive based upon your own earnings is less than what you would receive based upon the earnings of your former spouse.
Also, if you have been married several times, and are currently unmarried, you may be able to choose the highest yielding benefit from your ex’s as long as you meet the above-mentioned criteria.  

If your former spouse yet to apply for Social Security benefits, you may still apply and receive divorce spouse benefits as long as you meet the eligibility criteria and you have been divorced from that spouse for at least two years.

While the divorced spouse benefit is not a financial savior for everyone going through the difficult ordeal of divorce, it is important to remember that this benefit exists. Every little bit helps when trying to adjust to a new financial lifestyle.

For more information from the Social Security Administration Website, click here.

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