4/16/2012 12:15 PM ET|
Social Security on ex's record?
If you are divorced, you may be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of a former spouse. It will depend on the length of your marriage, among other things.
There is a minimum amount of time you have to be married to claim someone else's Social Security benefits.
"You have to be married at least 10 years," says Michael Webb, Social Security spokesman for the Seattle region. "Nine years and 11 months doesn't cut it. It's got to be the full 10 years."
If you meet the 10-year requirement, you can get up to 50% of the amount of Social Security benefits your ex receives. It does not reduce his (or her) benefits.
For most people, the marriage begins the day of the ceremony and ends when the divorce is finalized. If you live in a state that recognizes common-law marriages, however, you may be "considered married" as long as you were living together and you meet other requirements for that state. (If most people thought you were married, you probably qualify.) Common-law marriages are recognized in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C., although several states are starting to phase out common-law marriage rules.
You'll have to show the Social Security Administration you had a common-law marriage by meeting the specific requirements in the state where the marriage began.
Does it matter if my ex is still living?
Whether your ex is still living matters a lot in the amount of benefits you'll receive.
"A lot of people don't know that there are different rules if the ex-spouse is alive or deceased," says Webb.
"When a person goes from a divorced spouse to a surviving divorced spouse, the benefit amount will increase," says Webb. The amount depends on whether you have reached full retirement age. "In general, if a surviving spouse is over full retirement age, they could generally expect to receive the payment amount of the deceased ex-spouse," he says.
In addition, if your ex-spouse is still living, you must be age 62 or older to receive Social Security benefits. But if your ex is deceased, you may be able to start taking benefits at age 60, or age 50 if you are disabled.
If you have a child younger than 16 who also belonged to your ex who is retired or deceased, you may receive benefits for the child until he or she reaches age 16. If you have a disabled child, the age limit does not apply.
You do not have to meet the minimum requirement of 10 years of marriage for your child to receive benefits. "The benefit amounts are a little different, depending on the age of the ex-spouse (the one applying for mother's/father's benefits) and whether or not the worker is alive or deceased," says Webb. "This can get awfully complicated, so we advise talking to us directly."
Does it matter if I remarry?
If you were married to a higher-earning spouse for decades and then had a brief marriage to someone else, one consolation is that at least you haven't permanently lost your Social Security benefits from the first marriage.
You cannot take benefits on an ex-spouse's record while you are married to someone else. But if you remarry and then you divorce again, after two years you are eligible to apply for benefits from the prior spouse again.
Betty Perrin (not her real name) had more than one ex and was able to maximize her benefits. Her second husband, Tom, passed away while she was married to her third husband, Walter. Even though Walter made a higher income, much of it was not subject to Social Security taxes. Betty received a higher benefit under Tom's record, which illustrates how important it is to check out all the alternatives before you decide whose benefit record to use.
What if my ex has several ex-wives?
If your former spouse has several exes, the question becomes: How many exes can claim benefits on one person's record?
The answer: As many ex-spouses as qualify can all take benefits based on the same person's contribution record. A person could have four or five ex-spouses -- from marriages that each lasted 10 years or longer -- and all of the ex-spouses could take benefits.
The other ex-wives of Betty's former husbands were not affected by her decision about whose record to choose for claiming Social Security benefits. In fact, one of her ex's other ex-wives encouraged Betty to go back to the Social Security office to see if she could get higher benefits.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Why can't these women get off their azzes and get a job like the rest of the people do
Kills me when these right wing parrots spew this crap the **** about the very high unemployment rate in their next post. Contrary to what you people think almost every American woudl work and reject welfare and the like if there were jobs available for them to get and that paid a living wage. However you party has seen to it that now they want you to work for nothing. Now to educate you these are older folks who are retirement age and are being taken care of just like they would have had it been a private retirement plan.
Interesting post and unfortunately true. The beauty of the money collection (tax) system in this country is there is no accountability for where the money goes. However, no audit is necessary because it goes into corporate and individual pockets, directly or indirectly. Is it any wonder politicians are willing to spend outrageous amounts of money to be elected? They get it back in spades if elected as all political jobs have two things in common. A base salary for the office held, plus all you can steal.
to Bill Stewart...
I don't believe you could as SSI is an income/asset based disability program - as soon as you get reitrement money off your ex's record that would be considered unearned income and there would be a dollar for dollar offset - so if you received more in retirement money than you do in SSI then you would no longer be eligible for SSI - that too would then stop medicaid, if you have that as well.
It is my understanding that you will not get benefits from BOTH yours and your ex's records - you will get the higher of the two.
and to Burstedbladder - this works both ways - it isn't always the woman who collects of of ex husbands record. if the ex wife had a higher paying job than the ex husband - he could take from her record as well. in many cases both have worked, one has just made more money than the other !
Why can't these women get off their azzes and get a job like the rest of the people do. Just because you are married for 10 years doesn't mean you should be entitled to collect SS off the backs of the taxpayers. Go to school, get a freaking job and learn how to support yourself.
I personally feel this is a huge flaw in the SS system that needs to be fixed.
Over the past 25 years, five presidents, and the members of Congress, have participated in the great Social Security scam. All Social Security contributions made by working Americans, except the amount which was needed to pay current retirement benefits, has been funneled into the general fund and used for non-Social Security purposes. Some like to say that the government just “borrowed” the money during the time period when it was not needed to pay benefits.
But borrowing implies repayment, and no provisions for repayment have been made. The government did not enact future tax increases that would automatically kick in when the Social Security money was needed. Neither did they enact legislation that would end other spending programs once the Social Security money was needed so the money could be transferred to the trust fund. The government spent the Social Security money, pure and simple, without making any provisions for future repayments. The IOUs in the trust fund are not marketable, and they could not be sold to anyone even for a penny on the dollar. The Social Security trustees confirmed the worthlessness of the IOUs in the 2009 Social Security Trustees Report with the following words:
Neither the redemption of trust fund bonds, nor interest paid on those bonds, provides any new net income to the Treasury, which must finance redemptions and interest payments through some combination of increased taxation, reductions in other government spending, or additional borrowing from the public.
In order for Social Security to pay full benefits after 2016, it will be necessary for the government to begin repaying the money it has spent on other things. This will mean increased taxes and/or additional borrowing. Neither of these is politically popular, and there is no assurance that future politicians will be willing to raise taxes to pay for the irresponsible behavior of past politicians. If the money is not repaid in full, with interest, it will have been stolen by the government from working Americans who paid into the fund.
Since Social Security would be fully funded until at least 2037 if the government had not used the money for other things, the only reason that politicians are advocating cuts in Social Security benefits is the fact that the government does not have the money with which to pay its debt to Social Security. Given the fact that Section 13301 of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 made it a violation of federal law to use Social Security revenue for non-Social Security purposes, it is hard to justify using the word “borrow” to refer to any of the Social Security money spent after 1990, even if it is eventually paid back.
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