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Social Security retirement benefits for divorced spouses

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | High-Asset Divorce

Divorced spouses in West Virginia and around the country who did not work while they were married or earned modest incomes are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits based on their former husband or wives’ contributions as long as their marriages lasted for at least 10 years. Divorced spouses can begin to receive Social Security spousal benefits at 62 years of age, but the amount they receive each month will be higher if they apply when they reach their full retirement age.

Divorced spousal benefits

Spouses who have been divorced for at least two years, were married for at least 10 years and have not remarried may receive up to 50% of their former husband or wives’ full retirement age benefits. They can also claim benefits based on their own contributions, but they cannot receive both divorced spousal benefits and their own benefits. If divorced spouses apply to receive Social Security benefits before they reach their full retirement age, their payments will be subject to the Social Security Administration’s earnings test. This means that their monthly payment will be reduced by $1 for every $2 they earn over the agency’s income threshold. In 2023, that income threshold is $21,240.

Divorced survivor benefits

Spouses may receive divorced survivor benefits if their former husbands or wives have passed away. These benefits can be as much as 100% of the amount their former spouses would have received or were receiving. Divorced spouses can begin to receive survivor benefits at 60 years of age, and they continue to receive monthly payments even if they have remarried as long as they were at least 60 years of age when they remarried.

The financial impact of divorce

Divorced spouses often find it difficult to make ends meet on a single income, and this is especially true if they are retired or approaching retirement. Divorced spousal benefits or divorced survivor benefits allow divorced spouses to receive Social Security benefits based on their former spouses’ contributions, which can make coping with the financial impact of divorce much easier.