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7 Questions About Divorcee Social Security Benefits

Included in the myriad of questions that I regularly receive from readers are questions about how a divorced person can collect benefits based upon his or her ex-spouse’s Social Security record. For a divorcee (as with many married couples) sometimes the ex’s benefits represent the lion’s share of the couple’s SS record. Because of this, many divorcees are very interested in knowing what benefits are available to them, and when. In addition, even when the divorced spouse in question is not the higher earner there are questions about benefits that can be quite difficult to find answers for.

QDRO vs Transfer Incident to a Divorce

Divorcing couples often face the need to split up some retirement account assets.  This can be done from a retirement plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b), or from an IRA.  Depending on which type of account you’re splitting, the rules are very similar but are referred to by different names.  For a qualified retirement plan (401(k) or 403(b) plan), the operative term is Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO (cue-DRO).  For an IRA, the action is known as a transfer incident to a divorce. We discussed the QDRO in several other articles, so we’ll focus on the transfer incident to a divorce in this article.

Know Your Options When Talking to Social Security

When you get ready to file for your retirement benefits, it’s important to understand what options are available to you before you talk to the Social Security Administration.  There are many ways to get a good understanding of your options, including working with your financial advisor, reading up on the subject (this blog is a good place to start!), and talking to friends and relatives who have already gone through the process. The reason it’s important to know your options is because the Social Security Administration staff that you may encounter are not trained to help you maximize your lifetime benefits – they are trained to help you maximize the benefit that you have available to you today.  Often the options that the SSA staff present to you are not the best options for you in the long run.  In addition, SSA staff are absolutely overwhelmed by the volume of […]

A Social Security Option Strictly for Divorced Folks

There is a loophole in the rules surrounding how divorced folks’ Social Security benefits are treated.  As you may know from other articles you’ve read here and elsewhere, if you were married for at least ten years and you’ve been divorced for two years, as long as your ex is at least age 62, you are eligible to file for a Spousal Benefit based upon the ex’s record.  In addition, as long as you fit the circumstances, if your ex passes away before you, you will have access to his or her Social Security benefit amount as a Survivor Benefit.  These things are pretty much the same as if you were still married to your ex-spouse. There’s one rule that is different for ex-spouses than for a married couple – and it has to do with the restricted application for Spousal Benefits. Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits If you’ll recall, […]