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Ryan Family Law, P.C.
Elgin, Illinois
847-586-0161
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Can your spouse stake a claim to your Social Security retirement benefits once you divorce?

Many individuals who receive Social Security retirement benefits rely on the little that they receive each month to keep everything financially afloat. A potential loss of those funds can make things challenging.

A later-in-life divorce often leads a Social Security recipient to question what becomes of the monthly Social Security stipend that they rely on for this support. Circumstances surrounding your marriage dictate what happens.

Circumstances under which your ex can stake a claim to your Social Security benefits

Your spouse could stake a claim to your Social Security benefits if your marriage lasted at least ten years, even if you remarry. Your spouse only needs to meet the following criteria to be eligible to stake a claim to your benefits:

  • Unmarried
  • At least 62 years of age
  • Eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • The benefits that your spouse would qualify to receive are less than yours

Your spouse may be entitled to receive one-half of your benefits if they meet the above-referenced criteria. Your spouse may even be able to collect a portion of your benefits even if you haven’t yet applied for them, provided that the divorce occurred at least two years ago.

Can my spouse still stake a claim to my Social Security retirement benefits if we both qualify for them?

Anyone born before Jan. 2, 1954, who has reached full retirement age may receive their benefits now and opt to receive their portion of yours at a future date. Anyone born on or after this date must receive both benefits simultaneously. Those who continue working while receiving benefits may be subject to earning limits.

Divorce generally is always a stressful life event for most individuals. It’s even more so if you are at retirement age. You may want to read over our family law FAQ page to learn more about the divorce process and how to best protect your interests.

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