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Social Security serves as an essential financial safety net for millions of Americans, providing retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. One lesser-known aspect of Social Security is spousal benefits, which can significantly boost your retirement income. In this post, we’ll dive into the details of Social Security spousal benefits and how they can impact your financial future.

Understanding Social Security Spousal Benefits

Social Security spousal benefits offer additional retirement income to spouses who have earned less or have not worked long enough to qualify for their own benefits. If you are married, divorced, or widowed, you may qualify for spousal benefits based on your current or former spouse’s work record.

To be eligible for spousal benefits, you need to meet certain criteria. First, you need to be at least 62 years old. Second, your spouse must already be receiving their own Social Security retirement or disability benefits. If you are divorced, you can still qualify for spousal benefits as long as your marriage lasted at least ten years and you have not remarried.

How Social Security Spousal Benefits Work

The amount you receive in spousal benefits depends on several factors, including your age when you start claiming benefits and whether you also qualify for benefits based on your work record. If you wait until your full retirement age (which varies based on your birth year) to claim spousal benefits, you can receive up to 50% of your spouse’s full retirement benefit amount.

However, Social Security may reduce your spousal benefit if you claim benefits early. They will calculate your benefit based on your work record first. If your spousal benefit is higher, you’ll receive a combination of benefits that are equal to the higher amount

Divorced Spouses and Social Security Benefits

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Divorce does not necessarily disqualify you from receiving Social Security spousal benefits. If your marriage lasted at least ten years and you are currently unmarried, you can claim spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s employment record once you turn 62.

Even if your ex-spouse has not yet applied for retirement benefits but is eligible, you can still receive spousal benefits if you are divorced for at least two years. Claiming spousal benefits after divorce does not impact your ex-spouse’s benefit amount or their current spouse’s benefits, and Social Security will not notify your spouse when you apply.

Maximizing Your Retirement Income

Social Security spousal benefits can play a significant role in maximizing your retirement income. However, dealing with the complex rules and regulations surrounding these benefits can be challenging. At Arenson Law Group, PC, our experienced attorneys dedicate themselves to helping you understand your rights in order to make decisions about your Social Security benefits.

If you have questions about Social Security spousal benefits or any other legal matters related to retirement planning, we’re here to help. Contact us at (319) 363-8199 or online to schedule a zero-obligation consultation and take the first step towards securing your financial future.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : May 13, 2024