Remembering Social Security Benefits in Divorce Settlements

The wife, who is often the non-working or lower-earning spouse (often a “stay-at-home” mother), goes into a divorce at a disadvantage because she has a short work history. She should not forget that she is entitled to derivative Social Security benefits on the higher earning spouse’s (“worker spouse”) record when the couple is married 10 years or more. These derivative benefits do not lower the worker spouse’s social security payments. The 10-year condition is a good reason to postpone a divorce. The average length of marriage for divorcing couples is about nine and a half years, so just six more months increases retirement options with no reduction in benefits.

A woman can receive benefits on her former husband’s Social Security work record when the worker is entitled to retirement benefits, when her marriage lasted at least 10 years or more, when she is unmarried and at least 62 years old, and the benefit she receives on her own work record is less than the benefit she receives on her former husband’s.



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Suggested Reading
Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions
This book is a practical guide to evaluating assets during divorce. It explains how to determine the real value of marital property including houses, businesses, retirement plans and investments and how to negotiate a settlement that is fair to both sides.

Authors: Violet Woodhouse & Dale Fetherling


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