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Social Security benefits after divorce in Missouri

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2022 | Divorce And Family Law

Financial issues are a significant concern for most people going through a divorce in Missouri. Often, the focus of the divorcing couple is on the division of assets, such as a home or investment accounts, as well as debts, such as credit card balances. It’s also essential, however, for each spouse to prepare for their eventual retirement, which means consideration of retirement accounts as well as Social Security benefits.

Social Security spousal benefits

Social Security benefits provide cash income to those who have reached retirement age as well as people with disabilities that prevent them from working. In addition to the amount paid to the claimant, Social Security may also deliver benefits to that person’s spouse or surviving spouse if the claimant has died.

Spousal benefits after divorce

The policy of the Social Security Administration is to allow ex-spouses who are filing for retirement benefits to choose between filing on their earnings or the earnings of their former spouse, whichever is higher. This can result in a substantial increase in what the spouse can receive in Social Security benefit payments. The benefit payments to the spouse with the higher income are not affected by an ex-spouse filing a claim on their earnings.

However, there are two catches: First, the person claiming benefits on an ex-spouse’s earnings must not be remarried. Second, the marriage must have lasted at least ten years before the divorce was finalized.

Timing your divorce

Understandably, you might want to end your marriage quickly and move on with your life. If you are close to your tenth anniversary, and your spouse’s earnings have been higher than yours, delaying the legal process might be a wise financial decision.