October 19, 2021

Divorce. Can it Affect Social Security? Of Course!

By Louis Trivisonno, Financial Advisor, Marcum Wealth

Divorce. Can it Affect Social Security? Of Course! Marital Dissolution

In the process of divorcing, couples tend to spend their energy on the here and now, sorting through the assets of today while ignoring the assets of tomorrow. I would argue that the assets of tomorrow, such as pension, social security, and life insurance, deserve equal focus. Both spouses need to understand what they are entitled to in the future to make the best decisions today.

For the purposes of this discussion, I want to focus on Social Security since it applies to all of us. As a financial advisor, I have coached many clients through divorce. Typically, how the divorce is going to affect their Social Security benefits is the last thing on their mind. However, I always bring it up because individuals must know and weigh the options that are available to them in order to make an educated decision.

I educate clients on the following facts regarding collecting Social Security pursuant to divorce:

  • Your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years to qualify for divorced spouse benefits.
  • You are entitled to spousal benefits or widow benefits.
    Spousal benefits:
    • You must be at least 62 to collect spousal benefits from an eligible ex-spouse.
    • If you remarry at any time and your ex-spouse is alive, you forfeit the ability to collect from your ex-spouse’s benefits.
    Widow benefits:
    • You must be at least 60 to collect widow benefits from an eligible ex-spouse.
    • You must wait until you are at least 60 to remarry in order not to forfeit the ability to collect benefits from your ex-spouse.
  • Collecting from an ex-spouse does not affect their benefit in any way.

There are a lot of intricacies at play. As an advisor, I can outline the Social Security situations and guide clients to their most favorable scenario.


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