ASK KIM


Social Security and Divorce

Kimberly Lankford

If you and your spouse split, you still might be entitled to a share of his or her benefits.



I read about receiving Social Security spousal benefits at age 62 and 65 in your column last month. My husband is divorcing me next month after 37 years of marriage. Will I be able to qualify for half of his benefits? I was a housewife for ten years and have started looking for a job. At 56 years old, I am having trouble finding anyone to hire me. I am worried about my future, as you can tell.

It looks like you don't need to worry about Social Security benefits. Even after you're divorced, you can still qualify for spousal benefits as long as you are at least 62 years old and were married for at least ten years, are unmarried now and are not eligible for a higher benefit based on your own or someone else's Social Security record.

As a spouse, you can receive up to 50% of your husband's full Social Security benefit -- or less if you take benefits before your full retirement age (see this age-reduction chart for details).

Or you can receive benefits based on your own earnings history, if the number is higher. To calculate how much you could qualify for benefits based on your own earnings history, see the Social Security Administration's retirement benefits calculator. You can also receive a benefit estimate by calling Social Security at (800)772-1213.

The amount the divorced spouse receives in benefits has no effect on how much the worker and any new spouse receives. For more information about Social Security and divorce, see Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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