A Divorced Woman’s Priority: Social Security First?

Social Security BuildingIf you’re a woman on the verge of divorce, you will have a lot on your plate. Still, priorities matter and one of the first things you should think about is Social Security.

Women vs. Men

Social Security is more of an important issue for women than it is for men. In the Social Security Administration’s publication “Social Security Is Important to Women,” the federal government agency reports that in 2015, the average man’s social security benefit was $17,400 for full-time workers with median earnings of $48,000. The average woman’s benefit, on the other hand, was $13,600 for full-time workers with median earnings of $38,000.

Divorce can be tough, and considering your Social Security during this time might seem irrelevant. But it is best to learn about the rules, and discuss strategies with your Albuquerque divorce lawyer to ensure financial security in the future.

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The Rules Concerning Benefits

To acquire Social Security benefits, keep these two rules in mind:

  1. You should’ve been married for at least 10 years.
  2. You should be 62 years of age or older (60, if the spouse is deceased).

Also, receipt of benefits will depend on the ex-partner’s benefits at retirement. Don’t risk application before retirement; otherwise, you will face penalties.

Case 1: The Ex-Spouse is Deceased

One of the greatest Social Security benefits is survivor benefit, which is sometimes available to former spouses.

Once you meet the length of marriage rules, as the surviving spouse, you have the right to receive the highest benefit of your deceased ex-spouse. You can receive the survivor benefit when you reach 60 years old.

Case 2: The Ex-Spouse is Still Alive

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When you meet the rules, and the ex-spouse is still alive, you are eligible for either your own benefit or half of the ex-partner’s retirement benefit.

For example, your ex-husband received $2,000 worth of retirement benefits. That means you receive a $1,000 spousal benefit when you reach your retirement age. The actual amount could be less, however, if you file earlier. Early filing comes with penalties, so it’s best to wait until you retire.

Are you divorced, but the ex-spouse didn’t file for benefits? You have to be divorced for at least two years before you can claim benefits.

Learning about Social Security benefits may help secure a better financial future. Don’t let the complexity of the system get the best of you. And seek legal advice to gain fully from what the federal government program has to offer.