Retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration are calculated based on the number of years a person worked during his or her lifetime. The longer that a person worked, the greater amount of benefits that person will receive.

For many people, older women especially, their spouse may have worked much longer and be entitled to greater benefits. For example, if a wife worked for several years before staying home for two decades in order to raise the couple’s children, she would likely be entitled to less money in Social Security retirement benefits than her husband. But if that couple were to get divorced, the wife may be able to collect retirement benefits under her former husband’s name if she meets certain qualifications.

In order to qualify for retirement benefits under a former spouse’s name, the couple must have been married for at least ten years. In addition, the person seeking to collect benefits must not be currently married. Finally, the person seeking to collect benefits must be at least 62 years old.

If all of these conditions are met, then the wife in the above situation has the option to collect Social Security retirement benefits from either her own work history or that of her former husband—whichever is higher. She could not receive benefits under both names.

The person trying to collect benefits is entitled to one half of his or her former’s spouses full retirement benefits, as long as that person retired at the full retirement age (currently 67). However, that person is still entitled to receive a reduced amount of benefits at age 62.

Receiving Social Security retirement benefits does not affect the amount of money that the former spouse will receive. In the situation above, the husband would continue to receive his full retirement benefits, even if he does remarry. The Social Security Administration will still calculate the benefits that his ex-wife will receive without affecting his retirement benefits or the benefits of any new spouse after remarriage.

Additionally, former spouses and their children can collect Social Security benefits in the event that one of the ex-spouses dies. The Administration allows a former spouse to collect benefits until the couple’s children are 16, at which point the children alone can collect for another 2 to 3 years.

Retirement, while enjoyable, can also be a time of financial stress. If you were divorced after a long marriage, or are contemplating getting divorced, make sure that you take advantage of all of your rights under the Social Security system.

The attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law help all types of couples negotiate the many complicated issues involved when it comes to families. Our experienced Washington lawyers can help you with all of your family’s needs, and will work hard to help you achieve results.

For help with your situation, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.