Last week, we discussed “Strategies for Claiming Spousal Social Security Benefits,” and this week we’re going to look at what those who are divorced can do to maximize their social security benefits.
WealthManagement.com made three important points about Social Security benefits for divorcees: many people don’t know what they are entitled to; divorcees may be able to get the same benefits as those who remain married; and in some cases divorcees may have an advantage.
Divorcing does not automatically entitle you to spousal benefits, however. You must be at least 62, have at least 10 years of Social Security earnings of your own, have spent at least 10 years married to your former spouse, have been divorced for at least two years, and not remarried. That is an outline of the basic requirements; there are also parameters relating to whose benefits are greater (yours or those of your former spouse).
Those that fear claiming Social Security benefits will result in having to be in regular communication with a former spouse need not worry because according to WealthManagement.com, “the ex-spouse isn’t even notified when someone collects a divorced spouse’s benefit.”
One major advantage that divorcees have over married spouses is that only one married spouse can have the spousal benefit at a time while both divorced spouses can claim the spousal benefits at the same time. And more than one former spouse can file for benefits connected to one person: so if your former spouse has been divorced more than once, you do not have to compete with the other exes; you just have to meet the qualifications.
Again, many people are not even aware that they can apply for a spousal benefit if they are divorced. The possibility is there but you have to take advantage of it because the government will not track you down to make sure that you do. This is just one of the many reasons why it is useful to consult a Fee-Only financial planner as you prepare for retirement: you could benefit immensely from the knowledge of a financial expert.