Social Security Benefits After Divorce in Washington

The rates of “gray divorce” in America continue to grow, as individuals live longer and couples decide to go their separate ways. One issue of particular importance in a gray divorce, and particularly in long-term marriages, is Social Security benefits. More specifically, the issue concerns how the length of a marriage can impact your ability to collect certain Social Security benefits following a divorce. For more information on the potential impact consult with a Washington divorce attorney today.

Social Security and Divorce

In many long-term marriages, one spouse is the primary breadwinner while the other spouse cares for children, or both spouses work, but one earns significantly more than the other during the marriage. As a result, once the spouse’s divorce, the lower-income spouse may be able to draw Social Security benefits at retirement that are based on the higher-income spouse’s earnings record. Doing so often allows the lower-income spouse to draw a much greater monthly benefit than if the spouse were to draw benefits off of his or her own earnings record.

A divorced individual may be able to draw benefits off his or her ex-spouse’s earnings record if the following statements are all true:

  • You were married for at least 10 years prior to your divorce.
  • You are at least 62 years of age.
  • You have not remarried.
  • Your former spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits.
  • The amount of Social Security benefits to which you are entitled is less than the amount of Social Security benefits to which your former spouse is entitled.

Furthermore, if your former spouse passes away, you may be entitled to survivor’s benefits from the Social Security Administration, so long as you were married for 10 years, you have not remarried, and you are at least 60 years of age, or 50 years of age if you are disabled. If you are eligible for Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record, you also will qualify for Medicare. While you normally must be 65 in order to have Medicare coverage, you may be eligible for Medicare if you are disabled and under the age of 65, after a qualifying period of time.

Benefits of An Experienced Attorney

In planning for the future, you need to know how your marriage and subsequent divorce impact your Social Security benefits. No matter the complexity of the issues in your case, we are here to help. The attorneys of Ashby Law have handled all cases involving all aspects of divorce and family law, including financial matters. Please contact an experienced Washington child support attorney at our office if you have any questions about divorce or family law in the state of Washington.