Divorce and Social Security Benefits

While the overall divorce rate is down, the rate for older Americans remains high. In fact, according to national statistics, the divorce rate for adults over 50 doubled in a twenty year period, with one out of every four baby boomers getting divorced. A divorce later in life may avoid contentious issues such as child custody; however, it can wreak havoc on a couple’s retirement plans and deplete the financial nest egg saved for their golden years.

Couples who divorce later in life do not have the same opportunity to rebuild the retirement savings account that is divided up in a divorce. This is one reason why the poverty levels among unmarried baby boomers is five times higher than it is for married baby boomers.

Collecting on the Social Security Benefits of an Ex-Spouse

Another retirement financial security safeguard is supposed to be Social Security. However, divorced baby boomers often find that benefit leaves them struggling. When Social Security benefits were originally implemented, it was during a time when divorce was rare and most seniors stayed married. Today, one-third of baby boomers are either divorced, widowed, or never married. Hence, their monthly Social Security payment may leave them struggling to make ends meet.

This is especially true for divorced senior women. Almost 30 percent of divorced senior women live in poverty compared to 10 percent of divorce senior men. They also receive the lowest amount of monthly Social Security benefits compared to any other group of single men or women.

A person can collect on his or her ex-spouse’s Social Security earnings record. A divorced spouse’s benefit is equal to one half of what his or her ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit is at the divorced spouse’s retirement age.

In order to be eligible to collect on an ex-spouse’s record, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. The divorced spouse must currently be single and aged 62 years or older. The retirement benefit he or she would receive from his or her ex-spouse’s earnings must be higher than the benefit he or she would receive on his or her own work record. If the ex-spouse has not begun collecting his or her benefits yet, then the couple must have been divorced for at least two years in order for the divorced spouse to collect on those benefits.

It is important to note—especially with the high divorce rate for baby boomers for second and third marriages—that more than one divorced spouse can collect on an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit. This will in no way impact the ex-spouse’s benefit amount.

Let a DuPage County Divorce Attorney Advocate for You

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to contact a skilled DuPage County family law attorney in order to ensure that you are legally protected and receive whatever assets you are entitled to from the marital estate. Call Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC at (630) 793-6337 to schedule your confidential consultation today


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