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Social Security Spousal Benefits After Divorce

Divorcing your spouse often means reevaluating how you’ll spend your retirement. Even if you’re not spending the rest of your life with your ex, you may still be entitled to certain Social Security retirement benefits after divorce. Here’s a brief overview of how it works and what to expect.

Who qualifies for spousal retirement benefits?

There are six requirements for divorced spouse Social Security retirement benefits:

  1. The marriage lasted 10 or more years
  2. You have been divorced for two or more years
  3. You are at least 62
  4. You are not married
  5. Your Social Security retirement benefit based on your own work history is less than the divorced spouse benefit
  6. Your ex is entitled to receive their own Social Security retirement benefits

Although this is extremely helpful for stay-at-home spouses, you won’t be disqualified if you also worked full-time before, during or after the marriage.

Social Security divorced spouse retirement benefits

If you qualify for divorced spouse retirement benefits, you can receive up to 50 percent of your ex’s full retirement benefit—as long as you wait until you reach full retirement age. This is typically ages 66 to 67.

However, even if you’re not at full retirement age, you can start receiving benefits as early as age 62. However, the Social Security Administration reserves the right to permanently reduce the benefits by up to 30 percent when you file early.

Generally, you don’t have to negotiate Social Security benefits in your divorce settlement, but it could affect when you divorce. If you’re ready to split up but haven’t quite reached the 10-year mark, it may behoove you to wait to divorce your spouse. Always seek advice from a trusted attorney to ensure you’re making the right choices for your situation.

For help with your divorce and Social Security retirement benefit questions, call the experienced divorce lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN.

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  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties.Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.


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