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Qualifying for Social Security based on an ex-spouse’s earnings

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2020 | Divorce

When people in Maryland get a divorce, they may not be aware that they may still be entitled to receive Social Security based on their ex-spouse’s work history. It is understandable that they may not know about this part of Social Security law, but it could be very beneficial, especially for those whose ex-spouses earned a great deal more money than them. Here is a rundown of what someone who wants to take advantage of this perfectly legal benefit needs to know about how divorce impacts Social Security.

One of the easiest parts to understand is that the person making the claim may be entitled to use either his or her own allotted Social Security benefits or those based on an ex-spouse’s, but the individual cannot draw on both. Even someone whose ex has died may be able to claim survivor’s benefits. For those whose exes aren’t yet drawing on Social Security, they may still be able to make a claim, provided their ex’s record doesn’t prohibit them from receiving benefits for any reason.

There are a few conditions, particularly regarding the ages of both ex-spouses. They both have to be at least 62 years old and have the proper amount of work credits. The law says that 40 work credits, the equivalent of having a full-time job for at least 10 years, is the requirement. However, the earlier a person draws on Social Security, the smaller the amount of benefits he or she will receive. The marriage also has to have lasted at least 10 years and the individual been divorced for two to be entitled to draw on an ex-spouse’s Social Security work record.

There may be other conditions that exclude or include people from drawing on their ex’s Social Security benefits. Though this is a potential income source, someone getting a divorce will want to ensure that they’ve considered multiple financial aspects to give them the best chance at a secure future. Here in Maryland, that may mean working with an experienced family law attorney who can consider all available options.

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