Can divorce have an effect on social security?

The short answer is that divorce will not affect your Social Security in negative ways. There are, however, certain circumstances that may lead to changes in the amount that you or your spouse can collect in Social Security benefits. Read on to learn more about how you or your spouse’s Social Security benefit could change depending on various factors.

Social Security is Individual

Divorce will lead to significant changes in your financial situation, but social security is one thing that will not be affected. Social Security is based on each person’s individual work history, so your Social Security will reflect your own work history and stay consistent through a divorce. While your social security benefit will not go down due to divorce, there are certain scenarios when yours or your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit could increase. It is important to note that if you remarry, you generally will not be able to receive Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse unless your current marriage ends for some reason.

Divorce Will Not Reduce Your Social Security Benefit

If you will collect Social Security benefits, there are other family members who may also qualify to get those benefits, including your ex-spouse in some cases. Ex-spouses qualify to receive benefits from your social security if your marriage to them lasted over 10 years, if they have not entered into a new marriage, if they are 62 or older, and a few other circumstances.

After a divorce of a marriage lasting 10 or more years, you are able to collect either your own Social Security benefit or half of your spouse’s benefit, whichever amount is larger. Stay-at-home parents or others who did not work traditional jobs where they received a paycheck are able to collect Social Security. However, if you did not make an income while your spouse was working a high-income job, their Social Security benefit may be much larger. If you are the one who has a higher social security benefit, the amount that your spouse collects associated with your benefit will never decrease the amount that you or your family receive.

Social Security and Work-Based Pensions

In some cases, you or your spouse may receive a pension for work that is not covered by Social Security. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) can reduce the amount of Social Security you collect to adjust for work-based pensions that you did not pay a Social Security tax on.

In a similar way to the WEP, Government Pension Offset (GPO) could reduce the amount of Social Security you are able to collect. GPO would also be a factor if you are collecting on a spouse’s pension while taking Social Security, which would need to be discussed in a divorce settlement. Those of us at Alternative Divorce Solutions are eager to help you understand all of the circumstances that could affect your Social Security, so please reach out to us today to start planning for your healthy financial future.

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