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How Your Long Island Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security

by | Jul 31, 2018 | Estate Planning, NY

For many Long Islanders, retirement benefits weigh heavily on their mind when going through a divorce. Long Island is an expensive place to live when you are in a two-income household, and the thought of attempting to afford it on your own after retirement can be daunting. In order to prepare yourself for post-divorce life, it’s important to understand the impact your Long Island Divorce will have on certain retirement benefits.
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You Must Be Married 10 Years to Collect Spouse’s Social Security

In order to receive an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. Social Security operates under the assumption that, while currently divorced, you and your spouse were engaged in a lengthy economic partnership during your marriage. This relationship entitles you to a personal benefit for allowing your spouse to earn the income he or she did while you were married.

How Remarriage Can Affect Your Social Security Benefits

Remarriage plays an important role as it relates to Social Security benefits. If you remarry, you are no longer entitled to your first spouse’s benefits. However, when your second spouse dies, you may still be entitled to your ex-spouse’s benefits.

On the other hand, your ex-spouse’s remarriage does not affect whether you receive his or her Social Security benefits. So, if your ex-spouse remarries, you are still entitled to receive benefits from his or her earning history. It’s important to note that if there are multiple ex-spouses, for instance if your ex-spouse was previously married and that marriage ended in divorce, there isn’t just one benefit available. If the first ex-spouse applies before you, it will not change your Social Security benefit.

Eligibility Concerning Life of Spouse

There are two diverging eligibility standards that revolve around whether your ex-spouse is currently alive, or, if he or she predeceased you.

If your ex-spouse is currently living, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earning history if:

  • the marriage lasted at least 10 years;
  • you are currently unmarried; and
  • you are 65 or older.

Finally, your ex-spouse must also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits. It’s not required that he or she begin collecting the benefits, as long as he or she is eligible, you may collect.

If your ex-spouse predeceases you, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 60 if not disabled, or, 50 if disabled and
  • have been married for at least 10 years.

Additionally, if you remarry before age 60 (or 50 if you are disabled), you are ineligible to receive the benefits. However, if you wait until after you turn 60 (or 50 if disabled) to remarry, you can collect your ex-spouse’s benefits.

Your Own Benefits Must Be Lower Than Spouse to Collect Their SS

In order to collect your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, the benefit that you are entitled to receive based on your own earning history must be lower than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouse. This basically translates to you collecting whichever benefit is higher, but remember, you cannot collect both.

Have Questions About How Your Long Island Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security? We Can Help

If you have further questions regarding Social Security benefits after your divorce, we can help. Your Long Island Divorce can have far reaching implications for your post-divorce life. It’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side to protect your rights and future assets. Contact our Long Island Divorce & Family Law firm at 631-923-1910 to set up your free consultation with one of our experienced Family Law attorneys.

For more information about Property Division in your divorce, visit our Complete Guide to Dividing Property in Divorce.


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