Monday, July 8, 2013

Surprise Benefit? Did You Know You Can Collect Social Security Benefits for a Former Spouse?

Surprise benefit? Did you know you can collect Social Security benefits for a former spouse?

When it comes to collecting Social Security benefits, one of the last things that most of us would
consider among the range of options is the possibility of claiming benefits based on the earnings record of an ex-spouse. Believe it or not, however, Social Security rules provide for such an option, which works beautifully if your ex-spouse made/makes a lot more money than you.

General Requirements

In order to be eligible to collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record, your marriage must have lasted 10 or more years, and you must be at least age 62 ̶ although, ideally, you’d want to be at your full retirement age as determined under Social Security guidelines so that you can receive the full amount. Your ex-spouse only needs to be eligible for his or her benefit, meaning he or she doesn't have to be receiving benefits for you to collect. Additionally, you must be unmarried to claim using this route. The other thing is that unless your ex-spouse is already receiving social security benefits, you’d need to wait two years after your divorce before applying.

The good news is that your ex-spouse does not have to be unmarried. In fact, the benefit paid out to you as an ex-spouse will not impact the amount that your ex-spouse and his or her new spouse (if they choose to remarry) receive. By most accounts, this is a good thing.

Angela’s Surprise Benefit

Angela’s social security benefit, based on her own earnings record, would be approximately $580/month when she reaches her full retirement age of 66 later this year. Prior to our conversation, she was under the impression that was her best option, compared to about $414, based on her late husband’s earnings record. Angela lost her husband a little less than 3 years ago, but in my interview with her, I discovered that this was her second marriage. Prior to meeting her second husband, she was married to a now-retired top business executive for nearly 19 years. That changes everything! Because she is currently unmarried and had a prior marriage to someone who made a lot more money than she did. 

After some research and calculations, it became apparent that Angela could collect about $1,053/month in ex-spouse benefit. Remember, not only is this an incredibly good situation for her, but this benefit is not going to reduce the amount that her ex-husband (and/or his wife) is receiving. So everyone on both sides of the equation should be happy – at least theoretically speaking.

Are you sure that your Social Security strategy will get you the most that is legally due you? For more about this and other powerful strategies that could boost yours and your loved ones' Social Security income, download a complimentary copy of SECURE YOUR FUTURE special report.

It’s your financial future, no one else’s. Be sure to get the professional advice that will help you protect YOUR money from unforeseen challenges. Call us today at 877.656.9111 or visit us on the Web to schedule your no-strings-attached consultation!

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