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What Happens to Social Security Benefits after a Divorce?

Getting a divorce will not affect your Social Security benefits when your retirement benefits are based on your own work history. However, if your benefits are based on your former spouse’s work history, you will only be eligible to receive benefits after a divorce if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are unmarried
  • You are 62 years or older
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits
  • The amount you are entitled to depending on your own work history does not exceed the amount you are entitled to based on your ex-spouse’s history
  • You were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years

If you meet these criteria, and you have been divorced for at least two years, you will be eligible to receive social security benefits, even if your former spouse has not yet applied for them. It is important to know that Social Security will not notify your spouse of your application and your application will not affect the amount your ex-spouse will receive. Plus, if your ex-spouse has remarried, the benefits you receive will not impact their new spouse’s ability to receive benefits, if they are eligible.

How is the total benefit amount determined?

Social Security will consider the following factors when determining the total benefit amount owed to you:

  • Both your work history and your ex-spouse’s work history
  • You will either receive 100% of the benefits based on your own work record or you will receive 50% of your ex-spouse’s benefits depending on which amount is greater

Do I qualify for social security disability insurance benefits?

If you or your former spouse meet Social Security’s definition of disabled, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. However, you will only qualify if you have worked long enough in jobs covered in Social Security. If you are receiving SSDI based on your own work record, your divorce will not affect your eligibility. It is important to understand that the agency may garnish a portion of your benefits to pay for child support or alimony you may owe after divorce.

If you meet the following criteria, you may qualify for disability insurance benefits:

  • You are unmarried
  • You were married to your ex for at least ten years and are at least 62-years old, or you are caring for your ex-spouse’s natural or legally adopted child under 16 or a disabled child who qualifies for disability benefits under your ex’s work record.

Contact our experienced New Jersey firm

If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.

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