Many divorced couples in Maryland do not realize that they may be eligible for an increase in Social Security benefits when they become old enough to file. While there are a few rules that apply when that time comes, it still could result in more money for the recipient. This can be very beneficial for wives who stayed home during their younger years raising children and do not have as many Social Security tax contribution amounts or earned quarterly credits. There are some limitations that also apply as well, and eligibility for some government assistance programs can be impacted also.
Myths about ex-spouse Social Security benefits
Many people do not understand all of the rules that determine ex-spouse eligibility for Social Security benefits. The first rule is that their approval is not necessary because eligibility does not reduce their personal benefit. Terms of a divorce decree agreement will not impact receiving benefits either if the marriage lasted longer than 10 years. Additionally, although some information will be needed to identify the former spouse, they will not be contacted.
Benefit amounts can change based on age at the time of retiring and whether or not the ex-spouse is still living. Those who retire at age 62 are only eligible for 50% of their ex-spouse’s benefit after a divorce. The schedule differs for those with a deceased spouse. Unmarried widows of any age may receive benefits at a 75% rate with a child under age 16 or one who is disabled. Widows age 50 receive full benefit amount if their deceased ex-spouse was fully insured at the time of death. And widows age 60 or greater may receive full benefits for a qualified ex-spouse with no additional qualifications needed.
All Social Security applicants should always contact the Social Security Administration well before becoming eligible for benefits. Individual finances can change dramatically at retirement, and being prepared for the shift in income is important.