If you were not the primary breadwinner during your marriage your social security benefits when you reach your 60's may be very low...certainly not enough to live on.
In general, if you were married to your spouse for at least ten years, you may be eligible for either your own social security benefit based on your own work record, or half of your ex-spouse's benefit, whichever is higher. If you want to claim half your ex-spouse's benefit in the future, you better keep his or her social security number and your divorce decree in a safe place because you will need them!
Divorce's impact on social security benefits is complicated. You may be asking yourself these questions:
What if my ex-spouse dies? How much will I be entitled to receive?
What happens if I remarry? What happens if my ex-spouse remarries?
At what age will I be able to start collecting if I am older than my ex-spouse?
Will social security be reduced or eliminated because of a government pension?
Chris Chen, who is a colleague of mine and is based in Massachusetts, is also a certified divorce financial analyst and member of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners. Click here to read the excellent article he wrote that answers these questions and more. Hats off to Chris for summarizing the complicated issue of social security and divorce and providing easy-to-follow examples.
Laurie Itkin is a financial advisor, wealth manager, and certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). She is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, Every Woman Should Know Her Options: Invest Your Way to Financial Empowerment. In both 2017 and 2018 Investopedia named Ms. Itkin one of the top 100 most influential financial advisors in the country.
Through her financial consulting company, The Options Lady, she provides divorce-related financial planning and analysis to individuals and couples throughout all stages of the divorce process, with a speciality in California divorces. She is a member of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and is certified by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.