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Your Divorce and your Social Security Benefits

Many of my readers have been asking me questions about how their divorce might affect their social security status and their benefits. I collected the most common questions and I am addressing them in this blog.


Your Divorce and your Social Security Benefits

Changing your name on your Social Security card:

If you change your name, be sure to tell both Social Security and your employer. This will assure that your earnings will be properly reported by your employer and recorded in the Social Security records.

How divorce affects your future retirement benefits:

If you are divorced after at least 10 years of marriage, you can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse’s Social Security record if you are at least age 62 and if your former spouse is entitled to or receiving benefits. If you remarry, you generally can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment).

How divorce affects survivors benefits:

If your divorced spouse dies, you can receive benefits as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.

How remarriage affects survivors benefits:

In general, you cannot receive survivors’ benefits if you remarry before the age of 60 unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment. If you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled), you can still collect benefits on your former spouse’s record. When you reach age 62 or older, you may get retirement benefits on the record of your new spouse if they are higher. Your remarriage would have no effect on the benefits being paid to your children.

How retirement affects survivors benefits:

If you are collecting survivors’ benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits (assuming your are eligible and your retirement rate is higher than the widow/widower’s rate) as early as age 62. In many cases, you can begin receiving retirement benefits either on your own or your spouse’s record at age 62 and then switch to the other benefit when you reach full retirement age, if that amount is higher.

How marriage may affect your adult disabled child benefits:

If you receive benefits as an adult disabled since childhood, these benefits generally end if you get married. Depending on your situation, some marriages (for example, to another adult disabled child, are considered protected, the rules vary depending on your situation, so you should talk to a Social Security representative).

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