Expensive Penny,

My husband and I obtained divorced after 21 years of marriage. I believed I’d be eligible for his Social Safety. I did not know concerning the pre-60 remarriage penalty and remarried earlier than age 60.

Is it unlawful to get divorced to get my former husband’s Social Safety? He’s deceased.

I’m 62. It is great that I am fortunately married, however I am not comfortable about lacking out on my former husband’s Social Safety. We had been fairly penniless for 10 years constructing a enterprise collectively. After that, the enterprise turned very profitable.

Within the divorce, he obtained the enterprise and the retirement accounts. I used to be awarded the home (and mortgage), youngster help and alimony for 20 years (which ended 17 years early as a result of I remarried).

-Lacking Out

Expensive Lacking Out,

Few folks emerge from divorce courtroom feeling like they obtained a good deal. Seeing your husband get the enterprise you constructed collectively will need to have been an particularly robust tablet to swallow. It’s comprehensible that you just don’t wish to depart Social Safety cash on the desk now.

On the identical time, you’ve constructed a brand new life and a cheerful marriage. Further Social Safety cash would definitely be good, however not if it jeopardizes your present relationship with the particular person you’re keen on. So in case your present partner is even remotely uncomfortable with the concept of divorcing to get extra Social Safety, that must be the tip of debate.


Technically, what you’re suggesting may work so long as you bought divorced in keeping with the legal guidelines of your state. Folks do get divorced purely for monetary causes. That is sometimes called a strategic divorce. Some divorce to assist one accomplice qualify for Medicaid or so that a youngster can get extra monetary assist.

Earlier than I am going any additional, a disclaimer: I’m not an lawyer, and it’s important to seek the advice of with one if that is one thing you’re significantly contemplating.

The essential guidelines are as follows. You’re allowed to assert Social Safety on an ex-spouse’s work record, supplied the wedding lasted no less than 10 years. The utmost profit is 50% of their full retirement age profit, however Social Safety doesn’t allow you to double dip. You get the upper of your profit or your ex’s profit, however you received’t get each.

In the event that they die, you may accumulate as much as 100% of their main insurance coverage quantity by way of survivor benefits. As you be aware, you may solely accumulate the ex-spouse’s survivor advantages in case you wait till age 60 (or 50 in case you’re disabled) to remarry. But when the second marriage ends in divorce or as a result of the second partner dies, Social Safety will help you take whichever partner’s profit is bigger, supplied that it’s greater than the quantity you qualify for by yourself. Once more, you get your profit or his profit, however not each.

Earlier than you begin phoning divorce attorneys, you’ll wish to learn the way a lot cash is definitely on the desk. I’d recommend calling your native Social Safety workplace. They will estimate your advantages in case you declare by yourself file, in addition to what you’d get out of your ex’s survivor advantages in case your present marriage ends. There’s no want to enter particulars about why the wedding might finish.

Understand that divorce isn’t free, even whenever you’re each in full concord. On high of courtroom prices and lawyer charges, you’ll have to leap by way of additional hoops.

For instance, some states require that you just preserve separate residences for a sure period of time earlier than you may get divorced. If one in all you is on the opposite’s employer-sponsored medical health insurance, a divorce may significantly improve the price of your medical protection.

In case you want extra from Social Safety, it’s possible you’ll be higher off delaying and claiming by yourself file. You’ll earn an additional eight% delayed retirement credit score for every year you wait previous full retirement age till 70. You possibly can’t earn delayed retirement credit whenever you declare on another person’s file.

Another choice is to take advantages primarily based in your present partner’s file. The rules for married spouses are just like those for ex-spouses who’re each nonetheless residing. Probably the most you may get is 50% of their full retirement profit.

Except you’d be unable to pay payments with out the upper survivor profit, I’d lean closely towards not divorcing simply to get extra Social Safety. Doing so would complicate the comfortable marriage you’ve labored onerous to construct. You will have gotten a nasty deal in your divorce, however at this level, it’s sensible to maneuver on.

Robin Hartill is an authorized monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your difficult cash inquiries to [email protected].




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