Can My Ex Claim My Social Security After a Divorce?
If you are recently divorced and receiving Social Security disability or retirement benefits, you may be wondering if your ex-spouse can claim your Social Security even though you have divorced. This is a common question among individuals in similar situations to you.
When these questions or concerns arise, the Maryville divorce attorneys at Shepherd & Long, PC are happy to help you find the answers. We have experience and knowledge when it comes to the laws surrounding divorce and asset division. While the short answer is that your ex-spouse can claim your Social Security benefits after a divorce, we will explain this more in depth throughout this article.
When your ex-spouse can claim your Social Security after a divorce
It is true that your ex is eligible to claim your Social Security benefits, but only if they meet certain criteria:
- The marriage must have lasted for 10 years or more.
- Your ex-spouse cannot remarry.
- They must be 62 years of age or older.
- You must be living and qualified for Social Security disability or retirement benefits.
Keep in mind that you do not have to be receiving your retirement benefits yet for your ex-spouse to claim your benefits. However, for this to be possible, the divorce must have happened at least two years ago. If you are already receiving your retirement benefits, there is no required timeframe.
If your spouse has been remarried but that marriage ended in divorce, annulment, or death, they may be able to claim your Social Security benefits.
Will you know if your ex is collecting your Social Security?
The Social Security Administration will let you know if your ex-spouse is claiming your Social Security benefits. There is no need to communicate or reach out to your ex-spouse if this is the case because their collection does not affect your Social Security benefit at all.
If you are planning to remarry, your ex collecting your Social Security will also not impact your Social Security benefits to your new spouse.
How much of your Social Security benefits can your ex-spouse collect?
A divorced spouse is entitled to 50% of your Social Security benefit while you are alive. If you pass away and they are collecting your Social Security, they may receive up to 100%. However, the ex-spouse must have reached full retirement age in order to receive any benefits. If they decide to file before they reach full retirement age, their Social Security benefits will be reduced permanently. Individuals can file as soon as they reach 62 years of age, but the amount they receive will be lower than if they wait until full retirement age.
If your ex has been married and divorced more than once, they may be entitled to the higher Social Security benefit from their two ex-spouses. However, each marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years.
If the ex-spouse qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits on their own, the Social Security Administration will pay them that amount first. If your benefit amount is higher than theirs, they will get an additional amount, making the combination equal the higher amount.
How to apply for your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits
First and foremost, if you are wondering if you are eligible for your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, we recommend filling out the Social Security Administration’s eligibility questionnaire. This tool will let you know if you qualify for benefits.
If the questionnaire believes that you have a good chance at receiving Social Security benefits as an ex-spouse, there are a few steps you can take to begin collecting your benefits:
- Fill out the online application if you are turning 62 years old in the next three months or are older.
- Call 1-800-772-1213 if you would like to speak to a professional at the Social Security Administration office. They will walk you through the application process.
- Visit the Social Security office in your town or city if you need in-person assistance with your application. Maryville’s office is closed now, but there are four others you can visit: Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Athens, and Jacksboro. An appointment may be necessary.
- Make sure you have your ex’s Social Security number in hand. If you do not know this important number, you will need to know their birthdate, parents’ names, and where they were born.
- Ensure that you have all relevant paperwork and documents. Some of these documents may include your birth certificate, US citizenship, military papers, tax papers, and proof of divorce.
- Make sure you have your own Social Security number, date of birth, and place of birth.
- Lastly, you will need your bank account number to sign up for direct deposits or checks. Some people use checkbooks, but you may be able to print out a form from your bank with your routing number and bank account number.
If your ex-spouse has passed away, you must apply in person for their Social Security benefits. You cannot apply online in this case.
If you have recently gone through a marriage or divorce and need help with estate planning, reach out to our team at Shepherd & Long, PC today. We serve Maryville and all of Blount County, and are happy to help you with this process. Our attorneys believe that there should be a plan in place for everyone’s assets, especially seniors, and that these plans should be updated every so often. If this sounds like something you are interested in, call our office, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation.