Social Security Benefits After Divorce

by | Dec 28, 2012 | Legal Services

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In Chicago, social security benefits are the same as in any other major city, a major life change like a divorce affects benefits and both parties in a dissolving marriage. Normally one collects Chicago social security benefits based on the earnings one has accumulated themselves prior to filing for disability. The benefits are based on that amount of personal earnings, not on the joint earned between a couple. However, if married more than ten years than the social security benefit of one can be based on the spouses earnings even after a divorce if the spouse was the only person in the couple working at the time of the disability filing. There are a few specific qualifications in order for someone to be eligible to collect benefits based on a spouses earnings after a divorce.

So the first thing considered by the SSA is the amount of time the marriage was in place prior to filing for benefits. The minimum time limit in order to be eligible to collect Chicago social security benefits based on a spouses earnings is ten years. So if a couple is considering a divorce and has been married close to ten years but not quite that amount of time one of the negotiation factors may be an extended separation in order to achieve this minimum time requirement. Assuming this requirement is met there are issues likely to be joined by this decision so talking it thoroughly through with both one’s accountant and divorce attorney is wise to do.

One thing that you cannot do is collect Chicago social security benefits based on an ex-spouses earnings if you ever remarry. For those in later years and retirement age, this may in fact be a large part of one’s monthly earnings, so thoughts of remarrying will have to be strongly considered based on the results from the Social Security Administration. Yet if the new spouse has a higher lifetime earnings benefit one can collect on the new spouses earning amount once remarried and have met the ten year time requirement. One is not eligible to collect on the new spouses earnings prior to the ten year marital requirement being met.

One of the biggest questions on peoples mind when it comes to Chicago social security benefits after a divorce is how much can I collect? Generally the rule is that when one is collecting a social security benefit based on a former spouses earnings one can only collect a maximum of 50% of that former spouses benefit. So if at retirement age your ex-spouse of greater than 10 years is to receive $1800 a month, the benefit one could collect is maxed out at $900 a month. With the 50% maximum payout one needs to consider if they had a working career at any time if it wouldn’t be better to collect 100% benefit based on their own earnings instead of that of a former spouse.

One should not confuse the rules of collecting social security benefits after a death of a spouse to which one was still married, and the divorced spouse. Those rules do not apply to the 50% maximum benefit, but consulting a Chicago social security benefit attorney would be the best bet to learn the facts.

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