Can I cease my ex-wife from claiming half of my Social Safety?

Revealed Mar. 10

Expensive Penny,

I used to be married 22 years. The wedding led to 2002. When my ex-wife retires, will I be capable of acquire half of her Social Safety? In that case, how do I’m going about that? I’m 61; she is 62 now.

Additionally, would she be capable of come after half of my Social Safety? How can I forestall the latter? (I earned lower than she did.)


Robin Hartill
Robin Hartill [ The Penny Hoarder ]

Expensive R.,

In case your ex-wife earned greater than you, she’d nearly actually get more cash by taking her personal Social Safety. However even in case you made more cash, there’s no cause to fret that your ex may “come after” your Social Safety. Her profit has zero impression in your profit, and vice-versa.

There appears to be a false impression on the coronary heart of your query — which is the concept that if you declare your ex’s Social Safety, you’re in some way taking cash from them. That’s merely not true.

Social Safety doesn’t have a pot of cash put aside for you. As a substitute, you pay into the Social Safety belief by means of payroll taxes. Whenever you change into eligible to begin accumulating, your advantages are calculated based mostly on how a lot you paid in. Alternatively, in case you’re married or divorced, you could qualify for spousal advantages. In that case, Social Safety bases your profit in your present or former partner’s earnings as an alternative of your individual.

The vital level is that this: Social Safety wouldn’t take cash out of your ex’s verify and ship it to you. Nor would they ship half of your verify to your ex. They’ll merely use the previous partner’s work file if it leads to more cash for the one who’s making use of. Social Safety gives you whichever profit is larger, however not each.

There’s nothing anybody can do to forestall their ex from claiming their Social Safety. Though some divorce decrees specify that one partner will relinquish their rights to gather the opposite partner’s advantages, the Social Safety Administration says these provisions “are nugatory and are by no means enforced.”

Now to reply your query: It sounds such as you’d qualify to your ex-wife’s advantages, so long as you’re not at present married. Your marriage lasted for 10 years and also you’ve been divorced for greater than two years, as Social Safety requires.

However don’t be stunned in case you qualify for extra Social Safety by yourself. The utmost profit you may get by means of spousal advantages, whether or not you’re a present or former partner, is 50% of their main insurance coverage quantity. That’s the profit you’re eligible for at full retirement age, which is 67 for anybody born in 1960 or later. Individuals who work for many of their grownup lives usually qualify for extra on their very own, even when they have been married to somebody who earned extra.

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Your profit could be even lower than half in case you declare Social Safety early. For those who began accumulating at 62, as quickly as you’re eligible, you’d solely obtain 32.5% of your ex-wife’s full profit. You can also’t earn 8% delayed retirement credit every year must you maintain out previous full retirement age. Your profit would cap out at 50% of your ex’s main insurance coverage quantity.

Luckily, you don’t have to make this right into a guessing sport. Whenever you apply for Social Safety, you’ll be able to ask them to calculate each your retirement profit and your spousal profit. You’ll get whichever profit is extra. You may also use Social Safety’s on-line calculators to estimate how a lot you’d get from retirement advantages vs. spousal advantages.

When it’s time to use, Social Safety might want to find your ex-wife’s file. This course of can be simpler in case you nonetheless have her Social Safety quantity. In any other case, you could want to offer her date of start, the place she was born, and the names of her dad and mom. Even be ready to offer a replica of your marriage certificates and divorce decree.

The underside line right here is that your ex’s Social Safety doesn’t should occupy any actual property in your mind. Give attention to getting the utmost profit for your self, whether or not it’s by means of your individual profit or your ex’s.

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Robin Hartill is an authorized monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your tough cash inquiries to

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