As we have reported in past posts, divorce among the 50 and older demographic is on the rise in Illinois and the rest of the country. Going through divorce later in life can be particularly stressful because the split is taking place so close to retirement.
While many Americans retire with their own retirement savings, Social Security retirement benefits are still a much-needed source of income for many retirees. As we all know, these benefits not only provide for the worker but also the worker’s spouse.
The good news is that you are still entitled to retirement benefits after your divorce based on your ex’s work history so long as you meet certain requirements. For one, your marriage had to have lasted at least 10 years. Additionally, you must be 62 or older. Finally, you must be unmarried.
However, as the Motley Fool recently pointed out, if your marriage didn’t last 10 years or you get remarried, your Social Security retirement benefits can be thrown in disarray. The provisions can be very confusing and depend on your unique circumstances.
For example, if you marry someone during your retirement years, you can qualify for spousal benefits on your spouse’s work history after just a year of marriage. But if this marriage ends in divorce after less than 10 years, you are no longer eligible for spousal benefits based on that person’s earning history.
Additionally, getting remarried after a divorce means that you no longer qualify for spousal benefits based on your ex’s earning record. Instead, you become eligible to collect spousal benefits based on your new spouse’s earning record.
If you are nearing retirement age and divorce or remarriage is on your radar, make sure you carefully determine how the life change will affect your retirement benefits before taking the plunge.
Source: Motley Fool, “Social Security: Older Couples Face a Terrifying Divorce Trap,” Dan Caplinger, Sept. 15, 2014