February 9, 2013

Know Your Social Security Benefits after Divorce

Are you not receiving Social Security benefits? 

Are you are present divorced?

Was your prior marriage lasted for at least 10 years?

Are you 62 years old?    

Do you remain unmarried?

If your answers to the above questions are YES, this is the right time for you to review your Social Security benefits. You may not know it, but you may be entitled to some Social Security derivative benefits. Normally, a person receives Social Security benefits through the following means:

•   Through the member-contributor’s accumulated personal contributions; or

•   Fifty percent  50% of the former spouse’s Social Security benefits; or

•   One hundred percent (100%) of the deceased spouse’s earnings.

Rules for Divorced Couple

For divorced couple, the gauge is at least 10 years of marriage and the woman must remain unmarried. However, the “no marriage” requirement is not obligatory upon husbands. The records of their Social Security contributions will determine the amount of benefits due to the dependent spouse. If you are contemplating on divorce, you need the expert’s help of a divorce lawyer.

By law, Social Security benefits are not a conjugal property. But, it has become a consistent source for family support because such benefits constitute income. It is a form of social entitlement to help low-income earner spouse. The Social Security System provides benefits not only during the retirement age, but also for survivors and dependents in case of death or disability to workers and their families.

Eligibility requirement for a Divorced Spouse

Social Security benefits are received in two ways: (1) based on one’s contributions to the Social Security system; or (2) as a spouse of such member-contributor or better known as “derivative benefits”. The beneficiary will receive that which will provide greater amount of benefits to the beneficiary. Provided, however, that the recipient spouse meets the entire requirement to be eligible to claim for such benefits

Age requirement

It matters when your ex-spouse is living or not, it I important to determine how much you should be receiving. If your ex-spouse is still living, the dependent spouse must be at least 62 years old to be eligible for Social Security benefits. However, if your ex is deceased, the dependent spouse must be age 60 or age 50 for disabled dependent spouse.


Remarriage does not automatically forfeit Social Security benefits from a former contributor spouse. If you were married to a higher-earning spouse, divorced and remarried, the dependent spouse is still entitled to Social Security benefits (derivative benefits) from the first marriage.

The dependent spouse may claim for derivative benefits from the former contributing spouse or the subsequent spouse if qualifications are met. Social Security benefits may be claimed out from that second spouse contributions if the second spouse earnings provide higher benefits.

Eligibility requirement for widows or widowers

In addition, Social Security benefits is also available to survivors of deceased Social Security member-contributor, or the so-called widow or widower benefits. Again, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years before the final decree of divorce, and the contributing spouse must have contributed to the Social Security System for at least 40 work credits. The surviving divorced spouse must 60 years of age at the time of filing his or her claim. The surviving spouse will receive 100 percent of the benefits instead of 50 percent if the former spouse is alive.

Filing of divorce and claims for Social Security benefits is a complicated process. You need advice of an experienced attorney! Contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. for a free consultation, call (215) 942-2100 or complete our quick contact form at top right and send to us your questions.