Divorce and Social Security
When you are planning on retirement you may be thinking about the rest of your life and what is in store for you. For many, their retirement represents a time for themselves and finding their own happiness after years of doing things for other people. Ending a marriage is something that takes a lot of consideration and needs to be the right decision all around. It isn't just about whether you don’t get on anymore, especially if you have invested a lot of time into a relationship and marriage. Divorce affects more people closer to retirement age than any other age group. Studies show that the percentage ever-divorced was highest (about 43 percent) for adults of both sexes ages 55 to 64. Women are affected more than men by divorce. Those who divorced in the previous 12 months were more likely than recently divorced men to be in poverty.
Being married is, as the vows go “in sickness and in health and for richer or poorer.” But once you are divorced you could still get financial help from your former spouse if you were married for ten years or more. Many people didn’t know that they are able to claim social security from an ex-spouse's social security benefit. Research by Mass Mutual found that nearly one-third did not know that a divorced person might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse's earnings.
David Beckerman, Senior Vice President of David Lerner Associates says, “If you were the main earner during the period of the marriage then you should be aware that you may lose half your benefits to your ex.” According to the Social Security Administration, some family members may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. If they qualify, your ex-spouse, spouse, or child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your retirement benefit amount.
If you are concerned about how much income you will have in retirement and were married for ten years or more — then do the math. Taking into account that in 2022, the maximum monthly Social Security retirement benefit is $3,345 every month, you could be receiving half of that which works out to around $1,672 per month. Perhaps that is enough to make you think about putting a hold on the divorce, or at least reconsider if you are approaching the ten-year mark. Conversely, if you are splitting amicably and want to take care of yourselves then a conversation about divorcing before the ten-year mark could save you money down the line.
If your ex-spouse dies, you may qualify for what’s known as a death benefit, which is worth up to 100% of the monthly checks they received. Again, the 10-year marriage rule applies in this case.
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