Do Divorced Retirees Divide Their Social Security Benefits?

kane county divorce lawyerGovernment policy is rarely straightforward, but changes in the law can make it even harder to analyze. Such is the case with Social Security benefits after divorce, the rules around which may change depending on when you were born. Fortunately, however, with the help of a knowledgeable Illinois divorce attorney, you can learn everything you need to know about your Social Security benefits after divorce and how you can negotiate a fair divorce settlement that minimizes the impact of divorce on your retirement plans. 

Do I Lose Social Security Benefits if I Get Divorced? 

Although privately owned property like pension accounts and 401(k)s are divisible as marital property in a divorce, government Social Security benefits are not. Even if your spouse depends on your benefits for their own, your benefit payments will not be affected. Rest easy knowing that this portion of your retirement plan is untouched by divorce. 

Can I Get Social Security Benefits Based on My Spouse’s Income? 

In certain circumstances, divorced spouses can get Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse’s earning history. However, there are slightly different rules you must follow depending on the year you were born. If you were born before 1954, you can file for benefits based on your spouse’s work record first and later draw on your own benefits if they eventually become greater. If you were born in or after 1954, however, you must apply for all available benefits, and whichever is higher (yours or your spouse’s) are the payments you will always receive. 

There are further conditions that apply to spousal Social Security benefit eligibility. You must have been married for at least 10 years and divorced for at least two. You must be at least 62 years old and not remarried. If your ex-spouse has gotten remarried, however, it does not matter - your benefits will remain the same. 

Your Social Security benefit payments will never exceed half of your ex-spouse’s benefits. But if you file for benefits before you reach full retirement age, your benefit payments will be reduced by seven percent for each pre-retirement year you file. 

Hire an Experienced Team of Kane County Divorce Lawyers

If you are considering divorce and are wondering what impact it could have on your financial position, you need legal help you can trust. At MKFM Law, we have worked extensively with divorcees who are trying to protect their retirement benefits and we can help you, too. Call our offices today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a comprehensive consultation with one of our St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys today.


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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree