Divorce can cause upheaval in your retirement plans in Texas. However, you might still be able to access some Social Security spousal and survivor benefits after the divorce, providing some reassurance during that time in your life. It will all depend on the length of the marriage and timing of the divorce and whether you meet certain conditions.
The importance of the length of the marriage
To access spousal and survivor benefits, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. This is the most important rule to follow. Even if you dissolved your marriage just a few months before the 10-year mark, you lose access to the benefits.
Understanding spousal Social Security benefits
Spouses can claim Social Security benefits based on their own work record or based on their spouse’s work record. After the 10-year mark, this also applies to ex-spouses. If you earned significantly less than your ex-spouse or did not work at all, this might be helpful for your retirement planning. However, a person claiming Social Security benefits on their spouse’s or ex-spouse’s record does not get the full amount their spouse would get. Instead, they get an amount worth 50% of the benefit. However, when it comes to survivor benefits, they might get up to 100% of the benefit.
The rules for spousal Social Security benefits
Besides the 10-year marriage mark, there are other rules that must be followed to access Social Security spousal benefits after divorce. These include:
• Not having remarried
• Being at least 62 years of age
• Meeting eligibility requirements for retirement or disability benefits
• Specific other rules based on each person’s situation
Accessing survivor benefits includes similar rules. However, if the person claiming them remarried after the age of 60, they might still be able to claim survivor benefits.
Social Security benefits can be an important part of your retirement income. Do not overlook them during your divorce negotiations.