How Does Divorce Impact Social Security benefits?

You may qualify for your ex's Social Security benefits.

Couples going through a divorce negotiate the division of marital property. In some situations, the negotiation process should include a discussion about Social Security benefits.

When can an ex-spouse get Social Security Benefits? According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an individual who was married for at least 10 years can receive the Social Security benefits of an ex-spouse. Additional eligibility requirements include that the recipient be unmarried and 62 or older. Those who satisfy these requirements can receive the divorced spousal benefit two years after the divorce is finalized.

The benefits are generally not available in the event you remarry. However, you can begin to receive the divorced spousal benefits even if your ex-spouse has not taken out his or her benefits.

It is also important to note that you will likely be able to claim both your own and your ex-spouse's benefits. Financial planners may recommend taking advantage of this process by taking the divorced spousal benefit at 66 and waiting to take your own benefit until at the full retirement age. The full retirement age varies depending on the applicant's year of birth.

How much can an ex-spouse get in Social Security Benefits? The SSA generally allows for a distribution of half the ex-spouse full retirement amount. This is true only if you wait until full retirement age to take the distributions.

There are additional factors that can impact this amount. If, for instance, you continue to work while taking the divorced spouse's benefit the retirement benefit earning limit will apply. Those who are under full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit will notice a decrease in the Social Security benefit payment. The SSA generally deducts $1 for every $2 earned above the limit. The government has set the yearly earnings limit for 2018 at $17,040. If you turn the retirement age during the year in question, the SSA deducts $1 for every $3 earned above a higher limit - set at $45,360 for 2018. There is no deduction once you are at retirement age.

It is important to account for all assets during the property division determination of the divorce proceeding. Those who do not account for all marital assets during the divorce negations may encounter financial surprises. Social Security benefits are just one of many assets to consider when dividing marital assets. An attorney with experience in these matters can help preserve your interests.