With Social Security, Divorce Isn’t Always ‘The End’

An internet search for “divorce celebrations” will yield a range of gift ideas, from nursery boxes with scented candles and mugs printed with affirmations to more (much more) cheeky ideas, such as a T-shirt that reads, “You can’t fix it stupid , but you can part with it.”

These cheeky ideas may make you think it’s over once the divorce papers are signed. But that’s not true. Even years after a divorce, Social Security has some surprise gifts — financial support options that hark back to when a couple was married.

I consult with financial advisors daily to find the optimal Social Security filing strategies for their clients, using advanced software to explore options based on year of birth, estimated benefit amounts, marital status, and more.

Divorces are common. After all, about 45% of marriages end in divorce. If you have divorced clients, they need your help to understand their rights when filing a return against an ex-spouse’s earnings and planning if and how they will benefit from it.

Married for at least 10 years? Your customers might be lucky
Social Security limits who can collect Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s earnings. To do this, a person must have:
• Be married for at least 10 years.

• turned 62 years old.

• Not remarried.

• A Social Security Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) that is less than half of the former spouse’s PIA. (Primary amount of insurance (PIA) is the term that describes what anyone eligible for Social Security benefits is entitled to upon reaching normal or full retirement age. Full retirement age (FRA) varies depending on a person’s month and year of birth. Find the yours on ssa.gov.)

To find out what a person’s PIA is, they can sign up for an account on ssa.gov (they’ll eventually need one).

Anyone who meets these criteria is entitled to benefits from a former spouse’s file at any time after divorce if the ex-spouse has already applied for a benefit.

Ex-husband has not filed a report? Hope is not lost
Anyone who meets all of the above criteria and has been divorced for at least two years and is, in Social Security parlance, an Independently Entitled Divorced Spouse (IEDS).

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