Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:50 pm

I am in the midst of a very contentious divorce. I reached FRA in December, and I filed an online application for a restricted spousal benefit, planning to defer my own benefits until I'm 70. There was a message that someone would call me. The call came today.

I was actually very impressed with the young woman who called. After asking me some questions, presumably to confirm my identity, she said that she would explain all my options. I told her that I'd applied for restricted spousal benefits. She said that she understood that but she had to make sure that I understood my options. She then explained what would happen if I filed on my own record, what would happen if I did this and made it retroactive to before my FRA (lower benefit, some losses because I'm working), what would happen if I deferred my own benefit (increases until I turn 70). Then she explained in great detail what would happen with the spousal benefit, when the retroactive checks for December and January would come, etc. She clearly knew the system well.

Then she said that she'd set everything up and the benefits would start once my husband called them. I asked why he had to call, and she said, to confirm the marriage. I asked if I could send my marriage certificate, and she said that this would not be accepted, they would have to talk to my husband.

This is a problem because he is being as difficult as possible and he will not call them for me. He is squeezing me financially in every way possible and the last thing he would do is to help me get some income. I knew that I'd seen on the SS website that it was possible for a divorced spouse to file for benefits on her ex-spouse's record, and he would not be notified. I just double-checked that and it is what they said. But maybe it's different for a still-married spouse.

Does anyone have any advice?

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 14900
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:03 pm

Scarlett wrote:I am in the midst of a very contentious divorce. I reached FRA in December, and I filed an online application for a restricted spousal benefit, planning to defer my own benefits until I'm 70. There was a message that someone would call me. The call came today.
I was actually very impressed with the young woman who called. After asking me some questions, presumably to confirm my identity, she said that she would explain all my options. I told her that I'd applied for restricted spousal benefits. She said that she understood that but she had to make sure that I understood my options. She then explained what would happen if I filed on my own record, what would happen if I did this and made it retroactive to before my FRA (lower benefit, some losses because I'm working), what would happen if I deferred my own benefit (increases until I turn 70). Then she explained in great detail what would happen with the spousal benefit, when the retroactive checks for December and January would come, etc. She clearly knew the system well.
Then she said that she'd set everything up and the benefits would start once my husband called them. I asked why he had to call, and she said, to confirm the marriage. I asked if I could send my marriage certificate, and she said that this would not be accepted, they would have to talk to my husband.
This is a problem because he is being as difficult as possible and he will not call them for me. He is squeezing me financially in every way possible and the last thing he would do is to help me get some income. I knew that I'd seen on the SS website that it was possible for a divorced spouse to file for benefits on her ex-spouse's record, and he would not be notified. I just double-checked that and it is what they said. But maybe it's different for a still-married spouse.
Does anyone have any advice?
What does your attorney say or advise?

Sure seems odd that your husband would have to confirm the marriage? Perhaps your attorney could find out an alternative.

User avatar
Christine_NM
Posts: 2605
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: New Mexico

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Christine_NM » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:07 pm

Sorry for your difficulties. I see two possibilities.

First, wait until the divorce is final (and do what you can to speed that up), then file as a divorced spouse. Your ex will not be notified as I understand it. Possibly making some concessions he is looking for would be worth it to expedite the divorce and get the SS benefit if it is significantly larger than your own.

Or, file under your own work record at age 70 if possible, earlier if you need the income. Timing of divorce would not matter if I understand correctly (always a big if).

BTW, if you were able to get spousal benefits, would that not cease as soon as your divorce was final? I don't believe I've ever heard an answer to that question.

Agree that having husband confirm marriage is weird. Those BHs receiving spousal benefits -- did your spouse have to verify your marriage?

Hope this helps.
17% cash 47% stock 36% bond. Retired, w/d rate 2.85%

SGM
Posts: 2489
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:46 am

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by SGM » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:47 pm

DW received her first spousal benefit deposit today. I had to fill out a form on their website to file and suspend and it included questions regarding the marriage including the date, location and whether or not it was a civil or religious ceremony. DW then filed a restricted application which repeated the marriage information. They did not ask for a marriage certificate.

In the case if the OP's husband already filed for SS or filed and suspended then SS should have the marriage information. If he doesn't file that is a problem for you getting a restricted application approved. In order for your own spousal benefit to be not considered "deemed" all this needs to be straightened out by April 29, 2016. After that date you cannot get a restricted spousal benefit and then get your larger benefit at age 70 because of the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. This is how I understand the new law.

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:54 pm

Thanks for the responses.

dm200, my attorney wouldn't be able to help with SS. He could ask my husband to cooperate, but I see no reason that he would. I have already spent $27k in attorney fees and we are nowhere. It took 5 months and several trips to court to get an agreement on temporary spousal and child support - actually, we got it by court order. And here in NY, the law is clear, there is even an online calculator. You enter each spouse's income, the number of children, where they are living, and it spits out a number (which is what the judge ordered). My lawyers are shocked that he and his lawyer played games and stalled on this, because we both are salaried employees, no businesses, no cash, no hidden assets. It's a completely uncomplicated divorce and should have been over long ago.

Christine, SS benefits on my record would be significantly higher ($2500/month) than spousal benefits ($1350), but my plan is to let my benefit increase until age 70, 4 years from now, when it will be much higher. In the meantime, I can get the spousal benefits (assuming I can find a way to do this) without affecting my own benefit. If I were to get spousal benefits, they would not stop when the divorce was final because divorced spouses can get benefits on their ex-spouse's record without the ex-spouse being notified.

I would like the divorce to be final, believe me. I don't know how much longer this will take, and we have a house to sell this spring.

123
Posts: 2848
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by 123 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:57 pm

I think SSA routinely contacts the spouse to confirm marital date and status solely as an operational policy. (There's always the possibility that there was an earlier divorce or annulment that the current spousal applicant is not reporting (or maybe wasn't aware of).)

If the current husband is not co-operative I would think that a certified copy of the divorce filing, plus a certified copy of any acknowledgement or response which he, or his attorney, has filed with the court should easily establish her as the current spouse.

I don't think it's anything to worry about.
Last edited by 123 on Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:57 pm

SGM, My husband has been getting SS benefits (on his own record) since he reached FRA, about 9 years ago. I knew that there was a new law, and that younger people won't have the option of filing a restricted application, but didn't realize that I had a deadline to straighten this out.

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:00 pm

Thanks, 123. I guess I could call SS and ask what to do in this situation, if they will accept the marriage certificate and copies of the divorce filings. I didn't want to tell them that my husband would not be willing to call until I found out more about this.

User avatar
Christine_NM
Posts: 2605
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: New Mexico

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Christine_NM » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:09 pm

If I were to get spousal benefits, they would not stop when the divorce was final because divorced spouses can get benefits on their ex-spouse's record without the ex-spouse being notified.
Scarlett -

My thought was, if you did receive a spousal benefit, say based on the existence of the current divorce filing, then after the divorce was final would you not have to notify SS and change the status of your benefit from spousal to divorced? Not an urgent question now, but something that might be a problem if not handled right later on.
17% cash 47% stock 36% bond. Retired, w/d rate 2.85%

User avatar
ObliviousInvestor
Posts: 3198
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:32 am
Contact:

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:16 pm

SGM wrote:In the case if the OP's husband already filed for SS or filed and suspended then SS should have the marriage information. If he doesn't file that is a problem for you getting a restricted application approved. In order for your own spousal benefit to be not considered "deemed" all this needs to be straightened out by April 29, 2016. After that date you cannot get a restricted spousal benefit and then get your larger benefit at age 70 because of the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. This is how I understand the new law.
The 4/29/16 deadline is regarding the new voluntary suspension rules rather than the new deemed filing rules. People who are at least 62 years old as of 1/1/2016 are treated under the old deemed filing rules.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:46 pm

Good point, Christine. When the divorce is imminent I'll ask how to do the transition (assuming I manage to get spousal benefits).

Thank you for the clarification, ObliviousInvestor.

rooms222
Posts: 290
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by rooms222 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:40 pm

Has your husband filed for SS benefits yet?

There appears to be a two year waiting period if you file after the divorce, and he has not yet filed, but no waiting period if done while married.

http://www.annuities.pacificlife.com/pu ... /23175.pdf

Getting him to comply may be best done through court order or part of the settlement.

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:42 pm

There is an issue here with the new law.
Mike Piper can confirm.
You can file for Divorced Spouse Benefit without dealing with the ex in any way.
But if the ex decides to suspend his/her benefits for a few years, then yours get suspended as well.
But it's only for four years max...
Attempted new signature...

ResearchMed
Posts: 5859
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:03 pm

The Wizard wrote:There is an issue here with the new law.
Mike Piper can confirm.
You can file for Divorced Spouse Benefit without dealing with the ex in any way.
But if the ex decides to suspend his/her benefits for a few years, then yours get suspended as well.
But it's only for four years max...
In this case, it appears OP's (D)H is already over 70:

OP wrote
"My husband has been getting SS benefits (on his own record) since he reached FRA, about 9 years ago"

Can someone suspend after age 70?
(If so, it would *only* be vindictive, as there's absolutely nothing for that person to gain.)

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:07 pm

It would be very unlikely for someone to suspend after age 70.
But I'm not sure on the rules...
Attempted new signature...

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:14 pm

Yes, my husband is over 70. He is vindictive, but it would not occur to him to suspend his benefits. He would be happy to refuse to call SS for me, though, so I hope I can find a way around it. Especially if there is a 2-year waiting period if I file after the divorce is final.

Thank you, everyone.

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:42 am

Scarlett wrote:Yes, my husband is over 70. He is vindictive, but it would not occur to him to suspend his benefits. He would be happy to refuse to call SS for me, though, so I hope I can find a way around it. Especially if there is a 2-year waiting period if I file after the divorce is final.

Thank you, everyone.
You should be able to prove your marriage by showing them a certified copy of your marriage license.
That's one of the documents I had when I filed.

You raise a good point about the two year waiting period after the divorce.
I wonder how that works if you are receiving spousal benefits prior to divorce?
Do they suspend that for two years? I don't know...
Attempted new signature...

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:52 am

The Wizard,

The two-year waiting period after divorce applies only if the spouse has not started receiving benefits yet (as I have just learned from rooms222). My husband has been receiving benefits for 9 years.

supersharpie
Posts: 640
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:28 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by supersharpie » Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:29 am

SSA reps are required to contact the spouse to confirm the 10 year duration of marriage requirement has been met. However, if they unarchive your husband's retirement claim and he acknowledged he was currently married to you at the time, that may be sufficient. This assumes you were married for at least 10 years at the time he filed.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 7457
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by celia » Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:59 am

Scarlett wrote:Then she said that she'd set everything up and the benefits would start once my husband called them. I asked why he had to call, and she said, to confirm the marriage. I asked if I could send my marriage certificate, and she said that this would not be accepted, they would have to talk to my husband.
My experience on filing just over a year ago was just the opposite. We made an appointment at our local SS office for one of us to file and suspend and the other to file for spousal. We were reminded to bring a certified copy of the marriage certificate and photo IDs. (This could have been since I previously blocked online access to my SS account.) They photocopied everything. It seems that most people could easily lie on the phone or say they are someone they are not, so I fail to see how a phone call proves anything.

I suggest you make an appointment and go in person to your local office with the correct documentation. Say he is not available or ill, if asked.
A dollar in Roth is worth more than a dollar in a taxable account. A dollar in taxable is worth more than a dollar in a tax-deferred account.

junior
Posts: 720
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by junior » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:18 am

Scarlett wrote: Then she said that she'd set everything up and the benefits would start once my husband called them. I asked why he had to call, and she said, to confirm the marriage. I asked if I could send my marriage certificate, and she said that this would not be accepted, they would have to talk to my husband.

This is a problem because he is being as difficult as possible and he will not call them for me. He is squeezing me financially in every way possible and the last thing he would do is to help me get some income. I knew that I'd seen on the SS website that it was possible for a divorced spouse to file for benefits on her ex-spouse's record, and he would not be notified. I just double-checked that and it is what they said. But maybe it's different for a still-married spouse.

Does anyone have any advice?
You could politely tell the person that spouse refuses to call and that you would like to submit alternative documentation (tax returns, marriage certificate, whatever) and that if you are told no you would like to speak to a supervisor. If told no again you can ask if there's anyone higher up you can appeal to. My advise isn't based on any experience with SS but with experience working with bureaucracy in general.

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:19 am

One problem with taking just documentation to a SS office is, they don't know for sure what ELSE has happened in subsequent years.
Let's say I show them my certified marriage license from 1985. Excellent.
But am I still married to that person?
I could be divorced, a widower, or remarried to someone else...
Attempted new signature...

joebh
Posts: 1708
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:45 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by joebh » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:21 am

When you talked with the Social Security rep, did you happen to mention that you were in the midst of a divorce?

If so, that may be the issue at hand, since the rules change once you are actually divorced. She may have wanted to verify that you are actually pre-divorce, and not post-divorce.

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by flyingbison » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:32 am

The Wizard wrote: You should be able to prove your marriage by showing them a certified copy of your marriage license.
I have 2 marriage certificates, and I am not married to anyone.

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:35 am

flyingbison wrote:
The Wizard wrote: You should be able to prove your marriage by showing them a certified copy of your marriage license.
I have 2 marriage certificates, and I am not married to anyone.
Correct, and similar to me.
Hence the point I made in my post three notches above...
Attempted new signature...

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by flyingbison » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:41 am

The Wizard wrote:
flyingbison wrote:
The Wizard wrote: You should be able to prove your marriage by showing them a certified copy of your marriage license.
I have 2 marriage certificates, and I am not married to anyone.
Correct, and similar to me.
Hence the point I made in my post three notches above...
Well you can't expect me to read all the posts before replying, can you? :?

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 3383
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by dodecahedron » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:57 am

The Wizard wrote:One problem with taking just documentation to a SS office is, they don't know for sure what ELSE has happened in subsequent years.
Let's say I show them my certified marriage license from 1985. Excellent.
But am I still married to that person?
I could be divorced, a widower, or remarried to someone else...
But you could say something very similar about someone like me: I will be applying for widow's benefits when I reach FRA. I have a marriage certificate from the 1970s and a death certificate to prove that my husband died a few years ago. After well over three decades of continuous wedded bliss till death did us part, I have no way to "prove" that we didn't divorce within the first ten years, which would be a bar to my receiving widow's benefits. I was told by the SSA that all I will need to provide at that time is the marriage certificate (as the SSA has already received the death certificate. The death certificate does list my name on it as the surviving spouse, but that is just based on my own unsupported statement to the funeral director, who sent the information to the county records department so the death certificate could be issued.)

I feel sure there MUST be an alternative way for the OP to satisfy the SSA's desire to verify her current marital status. There are certainly many cases with spouses in the midst of contentious divorces as well as abandoned spouses who have no way to contact their spouses, spouses in domestic violence shelters who may be afraid to contact their spouses, spouses whose mental or physical disabilities would prevent them from being able to confirm the current marital status, etc. SSA must have some alternative ways to accommodate their situations. Perhaps a dated statement from the county court clerk stating the date of the divorce filing and the fact that no final decree of divorce has yet been issued would work for the OP.

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:22 am

joebh, I did not mention the divorce in progress. It's true that a marriage certificate doesn't prove that we stayed married, but then I could have any male person call and pretend to be my husband. I have all the identifying information that would be needed to "prove" his identity. So that seems to be the least reliable way to confirm that the marriage hasn't ended (yet).

I will have to call and ask if there is an alternative way to prove the length of the marriage.

Thank you, all.

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by flyingbison » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:59 am

Scarlett wrote:joebh, I did not mention the divorce in progress. It's true that a marriage certificate doesn't prove that we stayed married, but then I could have any male person call and pretend to be my husband. I have all the identifying information that would be needed to "prove" his identity. So that seems to be the least reliable way to confirm that the marriage hasn't ended (yet).

I will have to call and ask if there is an alternative way to prove the length of the marriage.

Thank you, all.
I wonder if copies of joint tax returns would be sufficient?

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 14900
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by dm200 » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:16 pm

Just happened to think of this. My wife, who is five years younger than I am, filed for - and received - Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 based on my earnings and my receipt of SS. She does not have sufficient quarters to qualify herself.

This was 3 years ago, but I do not recall having to verify that we were married to Social Security.

ResearchMed
Posts: 5859
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:23 pm

dm200 wrote:Just happened to think of this. My wife, who is five years younger than I am, filed for - and received - Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 based on my earnings and my receipt of SS. She does not have sufficient quarters to qualify herself.

This was 3 years ago, but I do not recall having to verify that we were married to Social Security.
That is about when DH and I first started his file/suspend, and my taking spousal while delaying my own benefits.

Yes, we were both speaking with the same (exact) rep about this, but IF we had been through a friendly divorce, say, (unlike OP), well... who was to know if we had previously divorced?
No one asked about that.

I don't know how someone proves a negative (e.g., that one hasn't divorced recently or ages ago, such as with less than 10 years of marriage).
One can prove a divorce with the docs, but to "prove" still married?? Really??
Something is off here.

And what if OP's H was incompetent? And, better/worse yet, what if OP had the PoA?

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

User avatar
DonCamillo
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:27 pm
Location: Northern New Jersey

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by DonCamillo » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:33 pm

I would take the following documents to an actual Social Security office, so that you could deal with someone in person, and with their supervisor if you run into difficuty.

Your marriage license
Your most recent joint tax return (establishes the length of your marriage)
A copy of the filing for divorce (helps to establish the need for an alternate way to verify that you are married, also indicates that you are still married)
Any documentation you have about his social security application. As said above, when he applied for SS, he had to verify your marriage.
Les vieillards aiment à donner de bons préceptes, pour se consoler de n'être plus en état de donner de mauvais exemples. | (François, duc de La Rochefoucauld, maxim 93)

Scarlett
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Scarlett » Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:28 am

supersharpie wrote:SSA reps are required to contact the spouse to confirm the 10 year duration of marriage requirement has been met. However, if they unarchive your husband's retirement claim and he acknowledged he was currently married to you at the time, that may be sufficient. This assumes you were married for at least 10 years at the time he filed.
I'm posting this update in case the information is helpful to anyone else.

I asked my husband (by email, the only way we communicate these days, other than through lawyers) to call SS and verify our marriage so that I could get spousal benefits. As usual, he ignored the email, and yesterday I had a voicemail from SS asking me to call because my application would be denied if I didn't provide missing information. I called in this morning, and explained that my husband and I were divorcing, he was not being cooperative, and I asked for alternate ways to prove the length of the marriage. The representative said that he would mail me a form that my husband could sign(!) I told him that my husband was not going to be willing to sign, either, and asked if there were another way. He said no.

I logged in here and re-read this thread. I called back in, got the same rep, and said that there must be another way because if my divorce were final they would approve my application without my husband's participation (or even his knowledge). I asked about providing joint tax returns or divorce papers, and he said that wouldn't work. Then I suggested that he check my husband's application, because at that time we'd been married for over 20 years. That got his attention, and after some long holds (the call took half an hour), he came back and said that they were going to take my word for it. He said that he'd checked my husband's application, and I'd been named as his spouse, and that our records matched because we were at the same address. He asked if I would be able to provide original versions of divorce filings. I said that I had electronic copies, he said they wouldn't be good enough. I told him that my lawyers filed documents electronically and received orders electronically, and I didn't think paper copies even existed any more. He sort of accepted that. He said that they would approve my application based on my word but someone might ask for more documentation later.

I also asked what I should do when the divorce was final. He said to submit a copy of the final decree, and I would transition to "independent" status.

Thank you, everyone, for all the great suggestions. I hope that this thread helps someone else!

The Wizard
Posts: 11361
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:32 am

Thanks for following up.
Even though your specifics don't apply to me, I am starting divorced spouse benefits this month...
Attempted new signature...

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 14900
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by dm200 » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:40 am

Scarlett wrote:
supersharpie wrote:SSA reps are required to contact the spouse to confirm the 10 year duration of marriage requirement has been met. However, if they unarchive your husband's retirement claim and he acknowledged he was currently married to you at the time, that may be sufficient. This assumes you were married for at least 10 years at the time he filed.
I'm posting this update in case the information is helpful to anyone else.

I asked my husband (by email, the only way we communicate these days, other than through lawyers) to call SS and verify our marriage so that I could get spousal benefits. As usual, he ignored the email, and yesterday I had a voicemail from SS asking me to call because my application would be denied if I didn't provide missing information. I called in this morning, and explained that my husband and I were divorcing, he was not being cooperative, and I asked for alternate ways to prove the length of the marriage. The representative said that he would mail me a form that my husband could sign(!) I told him that my husband was not going to be willing to sign, either, and asked if there were another way. He said no.

I logged in here and re-read this thread. I called back in, got the same rep, and said that there must be another way because if my divorce were final they would approve my application without my husband's participation (or even his knowledge). I asked about providing joint tax returns or divorce papers, and he said that wouldn't work. Then I suggested that he check my husband's application, because at that time we'd been married for over 20 years. That got his attention, and after some long holds (the call took half an hour), he came back and said that they were going to take my word for it. He said that he'd checked my husband's application, and I'd been named as his spouse, and that our records matched because we were at the same address. He asked if I would be able to provide original versions of divorce filings. I said that I had electronic copies, he said they wouldn't be good enough. I told him that my lawyers filed documents electronically and received orders electronically, and I didn't think paper copies even existed any more. He sort of accepted that. He said that they would approve my application based on my word but someone might ask for more documentation later.

I also asked what I should do when the divorce was final. He said to submit a copy of the final decree, and I would transition to "independent" status.

Thank you, everyone, for all the great suggestions. I hope that this thread helps someone else!
Glad your perseverence seems to have paid off!

Dulocracy
Posts: 2257
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:03 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Social security restricted spousal benefits - does my husband need to know?

Post by Dulocracy » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:52 pm

dm200 wrote:
What does your attorney say or advise?

Sure seems odd that your husband would have to confirm the marriage? Perhaps your attorney could find out an alternative.
This is your answer.
Scarlett wrote:Thanks for the responses.

dm200, my attorney wouldn't be able to help with SS. He could ask my husband to cooperate, but I see no reason that he would.
Your attorney cannot help with SS, however there are things that can often be done through the court. If you are eligible for the money and your husband refuses when he receives no detriment, many states would allow several options. First, your attorney would ask him to cooperate. Second, when he does not, your attorney asks for attorneys' fees for having to take it to court, gets an order from the judge that satisfies SS, and, if you have lost money due to the non-cooperation, get that money from your husband. Talk to your attorney about options under the laws of your state. As an attorney handling divorce, I will tell you that there are often very good things that we can do to force cooperation. (Georgia is more fun, because we have civil contempt. I have had a judge tell someone that he would stay in jail until he signed the deed he agreed to sign in a settlement agreement.) Again, talk to your attorney about options.
I'm not a financial professional. Post is info only & not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists with reader. Scrutinize my ideas as if you spoke with a guy at a bar. I may be wrong.

Post Reply