Social Security and all its claiming strategies can be really confusing! Take this, for example: did you realize there’s something called an ex-spouse benefit? If you were married for more than 10 years, you may be eligible to receive a portion of your ex’s benefit without them having any involvement.
Yes, that’s right!
So, how do you know if you’re eligible?
If you are unmarried, over the age 62, your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security or disability benefits, and the benefit you’re entitled to receive is less than the amount you would be entitled to based on your ex-spouse’s benefit, you could be eligible.
It’s important to understand that if you decide to take your benefit at full retirement age, you could be eligible for half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit. These benefits will not include any additional delayed retirement credits.
If you’ve remarried, you generally cannot claim these ex-spouse benefits unless your later marriage ends. However, your ex-spouse can be remarried and you can still receive the benefits.
Another important thing to point out is your ex-spouse will have no idea you have applied. Even if they aren't currently receiving benefits, you can proceed with your own application process. They don't have to be involved at all.
If you’re eligible for your own Social Security benefit as well, Social Security will pay your retirement benefit first. Then, if the benefit you are entitled to based on your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you’ll get an additional amount so the combined total equals the higher amount.
Keep in mind, if you continue working and receiving this ex-spouse benefit, income limits still apply. Simply Money Advisors recommends working with a financial planner (preferably a Certified Financial Planner™) to help you determine how your Social Security benefit will fit into your personalized financial plan. He or she can help you develop an appropriate strategy for taking and applying for your benefit.
Once you have determined the best time to take this benefit, you can apply online, over the phone or go into a local office. If you visit ssa.gov, the website will give you all the appropriate information you need to make an appointment.
The Simply Money Point
Your Social Security benefit is a key part of your personalized financial plan. It’s important to work with a trusted financial planner to determine the best time to start taking your benefit. You want to make sure you’re receiving the highest amount possible.
And if you’re within three years of retiring, have saved well, but still have questions about Social Security, we invite you to register for one of our upcoming Social Security workshops around the Tri-State the week of March 19th. Seating is extremely limited, so reserve your spot now.