The house, the car, the vacation home, the IRAs—it’s no shock to most couples that these marital assets must be divided equitably between the two parties at the time of divorce. However, some couples might be surprised to learn of an additional marital asset they could be eligible to receive according to property division laws—Social Security benefits.
How Do I Qualify to Collect My Ex-spouse’s Benefits?
Even if the topic of Social Security benefits was not part of the divorce decree, you may still be eligible to receive a portion of your ex-spouse’s benefits if you meet the following criteria:
- You were married for at least 10 years.
- You are both at least 62 years old.
- Your ex must either be entitled to and have filed for benefits OR you must have been divorced for at least two years.
There are a few stipulations that could impact your eligibility. If you remarry, you will not qualify to receive your ex-spouse’s benefits, but should your ex-spouse remarry, it would have no impact on your eligibility to receive your share of their benefits. Finally, should you remarry after the age of 60 and your ex dies, you might still qualify to receive survivor’s benefits.
How Much Will I Receive?
The maximum amount you can expect to receive is half of your ex-spouse’s full benefits once they reach full retirement age (FRA), which is age 67 for those born after 1960. And while you can file at age 62, should you do so, that 50 percent will be penalized up to 30 percent, greatly diminishing your share.
Will This Impact My Own Benefits?
It will, but in a good way. For example, let’s say Mary and her ex-husband John are both eligible for retirement benefits and Mary has been approved to receive her share of John’s benefits. Mary will be paid her benefits first. Since John’s benefits are higher than Mary’s, Mary will receive an additional amount from John’s benefits so that the combination of the two equals the higher amount.
Consult With Professionals
Even if you’re years away from retirement, it’s important to be as informed as possible about your right to all marital assets. Property division during a divorce can be a complex matter that can impact your entire future. That’s why consulting with a family law attorney is so important at this time. An attorney will work to ensure you receive the benefits to which you’re entitled and help negotiate a fair division of assets between both parties. Feel free to contact our family law team for more information or to schedule an appointment.