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Divorce impacts Social Security benefits

The divorce process can be both emotionally and financially challenging in Illinois, regardless of how long two people have been married. However, timing a divorce properly may lead to financial benefits in the form of Social Security. People who are close to their 10th wedding anniversary may want to hold off on getting divorced until after they have married for 10 years, as this may lead to higher Social Security payments for those who have spouses with earnings that are higher than theirs.

Based on information from the Social Security Administration, even if someone is divorced, he or she can get benefits based on his or her ex's record. This is true even if the ex has remarried. These benefits are available if the couple's marriage lasted a decade or more and the person is not currently married.

Social Security benefits based on an ex's record can also be awarded if the ex is at least 62 years old and if the benefit that one is entitled to receive as an ex-spouse is larger than that which one would get based on one's own work record. In addition, the benefits are available only if one is entitled to disability or Social Security retirement benefits. The collection of an ex's benefits has no effect on the ex's benefit or the benefit of the ex's current spouse, if he or she has remarried.

Navigating a divorce in Illinois can understandably be challenging, particularly for those who have significant assets. However, proper legal guidance may help people to fully understand their rights. Through an applied understanding of the law, people may successfully pursue their best interests while considering the other party's needs as well.

Source: marketwatch.com, "How divorce and death affect Social Security benefits", Robert Powell, April 18, 2016

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