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Divorce and Social Security benefits

Texans involved in a divorce may find themselves more preoccupied with issues of complex asset division and property interests than with Social Security benefits. Still, it's important to be aware of one's right to claim benefits on an ex-spouse's Social Security earnings as there can be a significant advantage to claiming benefits on the record of a spouse who was the higher wage earner.

Retirement plans, such as a 401(k), are a common area of discussion during a divorce. What divorcing couples may not realize, however, is that they may have some choices to make when filing for Social Security benefits. Social Security rules allow individuals who were married for 10 years or more to file for benefits on an ex-spouse's work record.

As one might expect, there are other requirements in addition to those on the length of the marriage. The individual filing for benefits must be at least 62 years old, and his or her ex-spouse must likewise be 62 or older. The person filing for benefits must also be currently single, although there's an exception for widows or widowers who remarried when they were at least 60 years old. Exceptions to these rules exist and may allow a disabled person or someone who is caring for a disabled child to file for benefits at a younger age.

Individuals who are concerned about collecting Social Security benefits after a high asset divorce may benefit from talking to an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to assist by reviewing the client circumstances and investigating whether the client is entitled to claim benefits from an ex-spouse. The attorney may also assist with determining whether a client can make a benefits claim earlier than the normal age requirement.

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