Considering Social Security Amidst Divorce Proceedings


As a couple contemplates the possibility of divorce, finances can be one of the greatest concerns. Regardless of age, retirement benefits can be impacted by splitting up. While a North Carolina judge might order a pension to be split between parties, government benefits such as Social Security should also be considered. It is important to understand that Social Security is not intended to completely cover one’s retirement costs. However, it is a major portion of retirement funding for many people, including those who have divorced.

An individual who has been married for at least 10 years can claim a spousal benefit from Social Security if certain other details are in place. For example, they must be at least 62 years old to receive these payments. Additionally, their ex-spouse must be entitled to those benefits based on age or disability. The ex-spouse does not have to be receiving Social Security payments for the other party to file. However, the party filing for a spousal benefit must not have a greater benefit based on their own work record. Timing of a divorce filing could be important for a couple with a marriage that has not quite reached the 10-year mark.

One party might worry that the other could impact their own benefit by claiming a spousal benefit. However, the two payments are independent, and the spousal benefit will not affect the other party. An individual continuing to work while receiving Social Security benefits needs to be aware that exceeding earnings of $16,920 could cause a reduction in spousal benefits. Additionally, people could lose spousal benefits if they marry again.

Before filing for divorce, people who have financial concerns about the impact might review these matters with a family law attorney to ensure that their options are clearly understood. Legal counsel might include a forensic accountant in the process to deal with complicated financial concerns such as hidden or complex assets.