After a divorce, people may think that they have no right to access Social Security spousal benefits through their ex-spouse. However, that assumption may not be accurate. It won’t be possible to do so in all situations, but experts say that there are certain guidelines that make spousal benefits available to people even if they are no longer married to the person those benefits are based upon. Here is what residents of North Carolina need to know about the impact of divorce on Social Security benefits.
For those who were once married to someone who earned more money than they did, they may be able to collect spousal or even survivor benefits. The marriage needed to last at least 10 years and the claimant cannot have remarried. However, survivor benefits may still be available to those who remarried after turning the age of 60. Making a claim based on one’s ex-spouse’s work record could mean more money than claiming based on one’s own record.
If the person decides to file for spousal benefits, it will still be necessary to file his or her own claim at that time. Claiming either benefits early may mean receiving less money, so claimants will want to have full knowledge of how much they might receive. The good news is that the person doesn’t necessarily have to wait until the ex decides to retire before filing for spousal benefits. A person can claim as early as age 62 as long as the divorce happened at least two years prior and the person’s ex is at least 62.
The process for claiming Social Security benefits in North Carolina is even more complex and in depth than outlined here, so it may be a good idea to work with a financial planner to determine the best course of action. A divorce attorney may also be a valuable resource for those who are starting the process and want to be sure that all financial aspects are included in the divorce agreement. It is important that people understand what they may be entitled to even after a divorce is complete.