An Attorney Who Has Walked In Your Shoes

Divorce may restrict rights to ex’s Social Security income

When a Springfield resident works long enough in a job that qualifies for Social Security he or she may, once reaching the minimum threshold age, begin to receive financial benefits from the Social Security Administration. These payments can help people maintain their lifestyles throughout their retirements, and may help them provide for their spouses as they enter the later phases of life. In some instances, the spouses of Social Security recipients may receive benefits through the recipients’ earnings. However, divorce can preclude this option if the couples were not married long enough to qualify.

Under the rules of the Social Security Administration a couple must be married for at least 10 years before one spouse may collect benefits based on the other’s earnings. A divorce prior to 10 years of marriage would therefore cut off the spouses’ from benefiting from each other’s Social Security contributions, but special circumstances may modify this mandate.

For example, imagine the couple that marries and stays together for a period of years fewer than 10. Imagine further, that they divorce but decide to reconcile and remarry within a calendar year of their divorce. If the couple’s second marriage lasts long enough to make their total time married at least 10 years then they may qualify to benefit from each other’s Social Security contributions.

However, if the above-mentioned couple’s second marriage occurred more than a calendar year after the finalization of their divorce, they may no longer be able to secure benefits from each other’s earnings. The duration of a marriage and the timing of a divorce may drastically impact how Social Security matters will play out between formerly married people.

The scenario discussed in this post is just one of the many financial considerations parties may make when they are considering ending their marriage through divorce. Readers are reminded that this post provides neither legal nor financial advice, though they are encouraged to consider speaking with legal professionals about the financial matters that may influence their economic health during and after their divorce.

Source:, “Surprising Social Security rules on divorce,” Mary Beth Franklin, Aug. 16, 2017