Social secuity after divorce

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petesamprs
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Social secuity after divorce

Post by petesamprs »

Hoping to get some clarity on social security rules for a family friend.

Background:
- Husband is 66 and wife is 64 – married for 30+ years
- Husband is retired and elected to start his SS benefits early at 62 ($2k/month)
- Wife still works full time (family has health insurance coverage through wife’s employer)
- Wife’s lifetime earnings are significantly lower than husband’s, so her SS benefit would be lower than his
- They have a child in college and another disabled child who receives SSI
- Husband and wife are now looking to get divorced (children will live with wife)

Questions:
- How do we estimate the SS benefit the wife entitled to after a divorce, based on her husband’s record?
- Can she get any benefit now or later based on her own record, if lower than her husband’s?
- After a divorce, does the wife realize any increased benefit by delaying her benefit until 66 or even 70?
- Any other suggestions on optimizing the benefit for the fact pattern above?

Thanks.
Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

I have explored the calculators on ssa.Gov and there is one to calculate the wife's benefit on the husband's social security earnings. Since the marriage lasted more than 10 years the wife can collect.

I would recommend finding that calculator and running the numbers.


https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html
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JDCarpenter
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by JDCarpenter »

These are helpful:
Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse's full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age. The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.
and
If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record and divorced spouse’s benefits, we will pay the retirement benefit first. If the benefit on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you will get an additional amount on your ex-spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html
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pshonore
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by pshonore »

I believe a divorced spouse can still file for only the spousal benefit provided they are FRA and allow their own benefit to accumulate delayed retirements credits. However since the wife's earnings are significantly lower that may not be the best approach
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petesamprs
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by petesamprs »

Based on those pages/calculators, I conclude the following regardless of whether they remain married or get divorced:
1) wife can wait until FRA and get the full 50% of husband's benefit (calculated as if he had taken it at his FRA, not at 62 when he actually did)
2) wife can begin SS starting now or anytime before FRA, but it will be at a declining discount to #1 above

However, then I read this language:
The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit. However, if a spouse is caring for a qualifying child, the spousal benefit is not reduced.
Since the wife is caring for a disabled child, can't she start her benefits now before her FRA and get the full 50% of the husband's PIA? However, I think I need to factor in during the time period she is working (making $23k/yr) prior to her FRA, some amount of her benefit may be reduced.
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One Ping
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by One Ping »

JDCarpenter wrote:These are helpful:
. . . The [spousal] benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.
Just to clarify. This not only applies to divorced spouses but to those still married also.
pshonore wrote:I believe a divorced spouse can still file for only the spousal benefit ...
This would be a 'restricted application.' Due to changes in the SS law passed in late 2015, I believe you can only file a restricted application (for your spousal benefit only) if you attained age 62 before 1/2/2016.

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pshonore
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by pshonore »

One Ping wrote:
JDCarpenter wrote:These are helpful:
. . . The [spousal] benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.
Just to clarify. This not only applies to divorced spouses but to those still married also.
pshonore wrote:I believe a divorced spouse can still file for only the spousal benefit ...
This would be a 'restricted application.' Due to changes in the SS law passed in late 2015, I believe you can only file a restricted application (for your spousal benefit only) if you attained age 62 before 1/2/2016.

One Ping
I thought the rules for divorced spouses did not change but after looking at SS website it appears they did. Wife in OPs case beat the deadline since she is 64.
robertalpert
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by robertalpert »

I recently read some social security literature and the following is my understanding:

If married more than 10-years; And divorced more than two years ago;
And you have not re-married; And wage earner (ex-spouse) is age-66 or older

Then you can qualify for 50% SSA benefit based on your ex-spouse work record,
even if x-spouse is not yet drawing.

(To maximize your benefit from ex-spouse , It's best to wait till you and ex-spouse have both reached age-66)


You can wait to draw on your own social security work record, allowing your own social security to continue to grow to max at age-70.


If you outlive your ex-spouse, (while drawing SSA based on his work record);
Then you may receive his complete Social Security benefit.
pinochick5
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by pinochick5 »

As a divorced person (long term marriage) I'm fairly sure my whole benefit is less than 50% of my former spouse's. Currently I plan to take that at full retirement age, but if it would help me retire earlier I may take it before that. I'm currently in my mid-50s. Is it possible to find out now what that amount is likely to be or at least will be at minimum in 2025 and in 2030?
robertalpert
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by robertalpert »

pinochick5 wrote:As a divorced person (long term marriage) I'm fairly sure my whole benefit is less than 50% of my former spouse's. Currently I plan to take that at full retirement age, but if it would help me retire earlier I may take it before that. I'm currently in my mid-50s. Is it possible to find out now what that amount is likely to be or at least will be at minimum in 2025 and in 2030?
Not sure how to find specific amount. But when you receiving half of your ex's SSA benefits; means your own social security is no longer considered deferred.


http://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html
pinochick5
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Re: Social secuity after divorce

Post by pinochick5 »

As far as I understand they will pay me my benefit and make up the difference between that and 1/2 of my spouses (assuming it's higher than mine alone) from his account. Just wondering what that might be. I have access to my estimated benefit at 62 and FRA, but not his. I'll contact the SSA directly to see whether they can provide an estimate. I'm doubting they will, as its confidential information. Oh well . . .I can plan using mine, and if I get a bump from his then bonus to me.
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