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Social Security and divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2022 | Divorce

If you are a divorced resident of Illinois who is planning for retirement, you should not overlook the possible Social Security benefits you can claim based on your ex-spouse’s work record. This might be a significant amount that can impact your financial security during retirement.

Using your ex’s work record for benefits

In many marriages, spouses have significant differences in their earnings. This means that when the spouses dissolve their marriage and reach retirement age, one of them will be at a financial disadvantage. However, if the lower earning spouse remains single when applying for benefits, they can then see which benefit would be higher, the one based on their own record or the 50% of the total amount based on their ex-spouse’s record.

How this works

While you might be entitled to benefits based on your own work record, those based on your ex’s might be higher. If you were born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, you might first receive benefits based on your record, then access those based on your ex’s record. However, if you were born on or after January 2, 1954, your benefits will be calculated using your record first then adding the amount needed for the total benefit to equal half of your ex’s benefit, if that was higher.

The requirements

Before you apply for Social Security benefits using your spouse’s work record, you should find out if you meet the established requirements. These include:

• Being 62 years or older

• Remaining unmarried

• Having been married to the former spouse for at least 10 years

• Qualifying to receive retirement or disability benefits when your former spouse applies

You must also have been divorced from that former spouse for at least two years before applying for these benefits.

Understanding how Social Security benefits work can help you plan for your future. It can also help you ensure that you feel stable during retirement.

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