How Does Divorce Affect Social Security Benefits in South Carolina?

After a divorce, your financial future may look quite a bit different than it did during your marriage. Recognizing how Social Security retirement benefits factor into the equation can help you plan for retirement and achieve long-term financial stability.

At Turner Family Law in Greenville, South Carolina, our experienced divorce lawyers understand that many people have questions about divorce and Social Security benefits. We have helped many clients navigate this complex area and set themselves up for a more stable and secure financial future.

Can an Ex-Spouse Get Divorce Social Security Benefits?

Many people separating from their spouses have questions about Social Security and divorce and whether they can collect Social Security based on an ex’s work record. CNBC reports that about 30% of people living in South Carolina and across the nation do not realize they may be able to claim spousal benefits when their marriages end.

Several different factors determine if you are eligible for Social Security benefits in a divorce. If you are, another set of variables determines how much you might collect.

What Determines if You Get Social Security Spousal Benefits?

The length of your marriage is one factor that determines if you get Social Security spousal benefits. To collect Social Security benefits from a former spouse after a divorce, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.

Your age also plays a role in whether you may collect Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record. You must be at least 62 to do so and not have married anyone else before you turned 60.

A third factor that determines if you get divorce Social Security benefits is whether your former spouse is eligible for them in the first place. Eligibility hinges upon how many work credits your former husband or wife acquired while working in roles that paid into the nation’s Social Security system.

When Can You Start Collecting Spousal Benefits?

While you may be able to collect divorce Social Security benefits at age 62, some advantages come with waiting. If you are financially stable enough to do so, consider waiting until you reach full retirement age before collecting these benefits.

“Full retirement age” varies based on birth year but is typically 66 or 67. Waiting to collect these benefits can increase the amount you receive each month. Conversely, taking them as soon as you reach the minimum qualifying age means you may receive less in each check.

What Other Social Security Benefits Are Available After Divorce?

Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be eligible for several other forms of Social Security benefits.

Survivor Benefits

If your former spouse dies, you may be able to collect survivor benefits. Eligibility to do so hinges upon you reaching at least 60 years of age and your marriage to your deceased former spouse lasting at least 10 years.

Dependent Benefits

Many people also wonder about Social Security benefits for a child with divorced parents. If you and your ex-spouse share dependents, those dependents may be able to collect Social Security benefits based on your ex’s earnings record until the child reaches age 18 or 19, depending on if he or she still attends high school.

Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance may be available to you if you qualify for Social Security based on your own earnings history and have a serious, long-term disability. To qualify for these benefits, you must meet the U.S. Social Security Administration’s strict definition of “disability.” Part of this involves demonstrating that your disability is unlikely to improve over time.

Retirement Benefits

Depending on how long you worked in a position covered by Social Security, you may be eligible to collect Social Security retirement benefits without relying on your former husband or wife’s earnings record.

Each type of Social Security benefit has its own eligibility terms, so it is important to conduct thorough research to determine your best course of action.

What Percentage of Benefits Does a Former Spouse Get?

Several factors determine the percentage of Social Security benefits you might get from a former spouse. The length of your marriage, your ex’s earnings and the age at which you start collecting benefits are among those factors.

However, if you are eligible to collect these benefits based on the work record of your former spouse, the most you might get each month is 50% of the total amount your ex receives. If you are also eligible for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings, you will receive the higher of the two benefit amounts. You cannot collect them using your own earnings record and your former spouse’s.

It is worth noting that if you do collect divorce Social Security benefits from a former partner, doing so does not reduce the amount he or she receives in monthly checks.

Need Help Understanding Divorce Social Security Benefits?

When it comes to Social Security and divorce, it helps to have clarity and guidance. At Turner Family Law & Divorce Attorney, our Greenville divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping divorcing parties explore and weigh their options concerning Social Security. Get in touch today to learn more about how to plan for and protect your financial future post-divorce.

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