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What makes you eligible for a former spouse’s Social Security?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Divorce |

When Wisconsin residents reach the age of retirement, whether they qualify for Social Security retirement benefits depends on how long they worked in a professional role where they paid into the nation’s Social Security system. Many people stop working (and therefore, stop paying into Social Security) once they marry, either to devote more time to their spouses or to help raise children. However, this raises questions about whether the party who stops working qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits if the marriage ends in divorce.

According to CNBC, about 30% of Americans do not know that they may be able to collect Social Security using a former spouse’s work record, as opposed to their own earnings history.

Who qualifies to do so

For a divorced individual to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits using the work history of a former husband or wife, the marriage between the two parties must have lasted a minimum of 10 years. If it did and one party decides to take these benefits using an ex’s work history, he or she becomes eligible to get no more than half of the amount the former spouse takes home each month.

How it impacts the former spouse

If a former spouse decides to use the work history of his or her one-time partner to get Social Security, this does not have any impact on how much the party who qualified based on his or her own work record collects.

In the event that a divorced individual also qualifies for these benefits without relying on the former partner’s work record, that party should do the math and figure out which option would give him or her more money each month.



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