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Divorce and Social Security

Spouses in Louisiana undergoing divorce must plan for its financial consequences, consider the impact of dividing their property and arrange for their future financial security. Social Security retirement benefits, even if a long-term issue, have an important and may be impacted.

Many of the rules regarding Social Security are the same for married spouses. Generally, if spouses were married for less than 10 years, a spouse cannot claim Social Security benefits based upon their former spouse's work history. However, if the marriage lasted longer than 10, years, the spouse may claim these benefits.

A spouse must be at least 62-years-old to claim benefits. These benefits are calculated on the former spouse's amount of primary insurance and the age that the spouse claims benefits. One important difference from married couples is that a spouse can claim benefits if their former spouse has not claimed benefits if the couple was separated for at least two years.

Remarriage can end a spouse's Social Security benefits based upon a former spouse's work record for the entire length of the subsequent marriage. If that former spouse remarries, however, there is no change to the spouse receiving that spouse's Social Security benefits.

Like married couples, a divorced spouse is eligible for survivor benefits when their ex-spouse dies if their marriage lasted at least 10 years. The benefits are based upon the deceased former spouse's record. These benefits are not affected if that former spouse remarried or if there are other eligible family members.

If the spouse remarries after reaching 60-years-old, that spouse does not lose their survivor benefit eligibility based upon their former spouse's work record. This cut-off period drops to age 50 where the spouse has a disability. If the spouse remarries before those applicable ages, they are ineligible for survivor benefits from their ex-spouse.

Understand these Social Security rules and other financial matters can help protect a spouse's financial future after divorce. An attorney can assist with making plans and seeking a fair and reasonable decree that does not jeopardize it.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Divorced? Here's what you need to know about Social Security," By Dan Caplinger, Oct. 12, 2017

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