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Ex-spouses can claim Social Security spousal benefits

Understanding how certain retirement benefits can be allocated during a divorce is important. California residents should be aware that, in certain situations, Social Security retirement benefits can be claimed by an ex-spouse. The ex-spouse of an individual first has to be eligible for benefits in order for him or her to claim spousal benefits. If there is no contact with the ex-spouse, an inquiry can be made at a nearby Social Security office.

The length of a marriage will also determine whether a divorced spouse can claim Social Security benefits. Documentation must be submitted to verify that the marriage, including periods of legal separation, was at least 10 years long and an application for benefits can only be submitted after two years of divorce.

If an individual has remarried, he or she is unable to claim the benefits of an ex-spouse unless that ex-spouse is deceased, the individual remarries after the age of 60 and the ex-spouse's benefits are more than the individuals. For individuals who are at retirement age and have twice been married for more than 10 years and divorced, spouse benefits can be claimed on the larger ex-spousal benefits.

The full retirement age, which can be 66 or 67 years depending on when an individual was born, is another factor that affects a spousal claim on Social Security retirement benefits. Individuals who are 62 years of age can receive a reduced portion of benefits, if they qualify. If the earned income is more than $16,000 a year when full retirement age is reached, some or all early benefits that were paid out may have to be paid back.

Divorce does not automatically disqualify an individual from claiming spousal Social Security benefits. A divorce attorney may help determine whether or not an individual can make a claim, and he or she might also be able to assist with other aspects of property division.

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