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Wisconsin Family Law Articles
Social Security and Divorce

Social Security and Divorce

Divorce is a complicated proposition no matter how old you are when it happens. This often long and emotionally-draining process can involve complex decisions about marital assets and debts. For a couple who has been married for decades, future financial support and stability are likely to be central issues during their case. One concern in this situation can be how Social Security benefits may be affected.

Social Security Benefits May be Impacted After Divorce

Although Social Security benefits are linked to individual workers, in some cases, benefit payments can be reduced after divorce. Specifically, under Social Security regulations, when a couple has been married for 10 years or more and divorces, a divorced spouse may receive benefits on their former spouse’s record if they are not married, 62 or older, their spouse is entitled to Social Security, and their own full benefit is less than they would receive from half of their ex's record.

If you qualify on your own Social Security benefit as well as your ex’s benefit, you can claim the higher of the two benefit amounts. However, you cannot collect both benefits. Although the amount will depend on how much a spouse is entitled to receive, in many cases, at full retirement age, a qualifying spouse is going to be eligible to claim approximately half of their ex-spouse's benefit or 100% of their own benefit, whichever is higher.

If you are a qualifying former spouse who has been divorced two years, you may be eligible to receive a portion of your ex-spouse's benefits even when your ex-spouse has not drawn Social Security yet. Additionally, you can still qualify for your ex-spouse's benefit if he or she re-marries even if the new spouse also applies. However, in general, if you re-marry you will not be eligible for your ex-spouse's benefits unless your new marriage ends.

Social Security Divorce benefits and dividing retirement assets can be challenging, which is why you could use a Wisconsin family law attorney. At First Look Family Law, we have extensive experience helping our clients consider their financial and retirement options during divorce.

Contact Karyn Youso today to set up a free consultation so we can take a “first look” and talk about your next steps.