How To Maximize Social Security If You’re Divorced

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If you are divorced, there is a way to maximize your Social Security benefits that you might not have considered. Depending on whether you meet certain conditions, you may be able to claim Social Security benefits under your ex-spouse’s benefits in order to maximize your full Social Security benefit claim.

See: All the Expenses You Never Considered When Getting a Divorce
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If you qualify, you may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit. These payments will not decrease the amount your ex-spouse receives. 

If you are divorced and your spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if you:

  • Were married 10 years or longer
  • Have been divorced for at least two continuous years
  • Are unmarried
  • Are age 62 or older
  • Would receive more based on your spouse’s work record than you would based on your own

See: 11 Social Security Mistakes That Can Cost You a Fortune
Find: $1M Is No Longer the Standard Nest Egg — Here’s How Much Most Americans Think You Actually Need To Retire

Retire Comfortably

One of the caveats to claiming your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits is that you will have to remain unmarried. This means that if you remarry, you will no longer be able to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings. This sort of loophole is unfortunately often taken advantage of, as it allows people to stay unmarried even if they are with a new partner, and still receive benefits from their ex-spouse.

The SSA states that if you’re eligible for retirement benefits on your own record, those benefits will get paid out first. If the benefit on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you will get an additional benefit on their record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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