Client-Centered Solutions

Does divorce affect your Social Security retirement benefits?

Maybe you worked hard throughout your marriage to support your family, which means that you are the one who accrued Social Security by making payroll contributions. On the other hand, perhaps you stayed home to take care of your house or your children and let your spouse be the one who pursued professional success.

Now that you think divorce might be in your future, you probably worry about many different financial issues, including what will happen to those Social Security benefits. Will divorce affect your right to Social Security during retirement?

What if you are a dependent spouse?

As someone who didn’t make enough payroll contributions to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you probably expected to benefit from your spouse’s work contributions. The good news is that a divorce does not end your right to claim benefits from their Social Security if your marriage lasted at least ten years. You also have the option of claiming your own Social Security retirement benefits and making a claim against your spouse’s benefits if there is a big gap between what they accrued and what you did.

What if you are the wage-earning spouse?

If you made lifelong contributions to Social Security through employment, you don’t have to worry about only receiving a portion of those benefits after a divorce. Any claim that your spouse makes will not affect or reduce the benefit you earn for yourself.

Although your spouse may be able to claim Social Security due to your work, the amounts they receive will have no influence on your eligibility or the amount you receive for Social Security retirement benefits. Understanding what happens to Social Security benefits in a divorce is only one of many concerns you will need to address before you file.