Social Security Spousal and Divorced Spousal Benefits

hello and welcome my name is Jamie Hopkins and again we're here today with Mary Beth Franken thank you for joining us thanks Jamie glad to be here and so what I want to talk about now is spousal benefits under Social Security and then a little bit about divorce spousal benefits so can you just first tell me what is a spousal benefit and why should people be interested in this well a spousal benefit is worth fifty percent of a worker benefit okay assuming the spouse who's collecting it is at least full retirement age okay a spousal benefit is available as early as 62 but it's permanently reduced for example if your full retirement age is 66 and you collect a spousal benefit at 62 it's only worth thirty five percent of the worker benefit now under current law that will be changing in four years someone who is full retirement age of 66 okay who has both her own worker benefit on her own worker record and is entitled to a spousal benefit worth 50% of her husband's benefit she would have the right at 66 to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits only okay that says the Social Security now that I'm the full retirement age of 66 pay me only my spousal benefits 50% of my husband's benefit while my own benefit keeps growing 8% a year okay up until age 70 and then I switch to my own retirement benefit at 70 which would be worth a hundred and thirty-two percent of my full retirement age amount okay this has been an extremely valuable strategy for married couples in some estimates it can be worth about $50,000 over their joint lifetimes but it's going away yes Congress closed what it considered aggressive claiming strategy loopholes and grandfathered in a certain group of people anyone who had reached age 62 or older by the end of 2015 still has the option and when they reached their full retirement age of 66 to claim spousal benefits only okay for up to four years and then switch to their own benefit at 70 anyone who had not yet attained 62 by the end of 2015 is out of luck they can't do this anymore and when they claim Social Security benefits Social Security will automatically pay them the highest benefit to which they're entitled whether it's on their own work record or as a spouse they will no longer have a choice okay so that's anyone who hasn't hit 62 by 2016 we're now just going to get really the higher whatever benefit were eligible whenever we claim right 62 to 70 correct so we're saying those people might be able to collect spousal benefits but there's a trigger to get spousal benefits too right we can't always just collect it 62 correct anytime you collect Social Security benefits before your full retirement age you don't have a choice Social Security will automatically pay you your own benefit first okay reduce for early claiming so if you claim at 62 now you're only getting 75% of your own workers benefit and only if the spousal benefit is higher than that would they layer that excess spousal amount on top but that's also reduced for early claiming at 62 it's only worth 35 percent of your mates full retirement age benefit so your combined benefit if you claimed in 62 would be the larger of either 75% of your own benefit or 35% of your spousal benefit you don't get a choice in order for me to collect my spousal benefit doesn't my spouse have to do something too yes great point my spouse has to do something he either needs to claim his Social Security benefit which then triggers a spousal benefit for me or if he filed and suspended by the new deadline of April 30th 2016 grandfathered under the old rules then I can still collect a spousal benefit even if he has not yet started collecting okay and then we said moving forward after that date file and suspend to trigger spousal benefits anymore correct correct the the new date of May 1st 2016 and later anyone who files and suspends at that point no one will be able to collect any family benefits auxiliary benefits okay on that workers record until he actually collects benefits now here's a question what if we have a little scenario we have somebody who is 70 years old and has never worked but their spouse is only 60 can anyone get benefits yet no no right the spouse who's working who's 60 is too young to begin Social Security retirement benefits therefore he can't trigger a spousal benefit for the older wife who has no benefits of her own this is a classic case where you look at Social Security as a piece of overall retirement income planning this couple where the traditional ages are reversed need other sources of income whether it's life insurance or some sort of drawdown strategy but they know is going to be several years before that younger working spouse is going to be able to claim and trigger a spousal benefit for the older dependent spouse so I think you made a great point just a second ago about Social Security needs to be a part of this overall retirement income plan that's how we teach it here and so a lot of really good retirement income planners are treating it now right it's not one separate decision it's a part of a comprehensive plan exactly so what are some of the you know kind of thought processes and things you need to consider when planning for a couple with Social Security I think the most important thing for a traditional couple where the spouses are either the same age or relatively close in age is to have the spouse with the higher benefit delay as long as possible that means up until age 70 to create not only the maximum retirement benefit while both spouses are alive but then it's going to create the maximum survivor benefit for whichever spouse is left behind right having said that a lot of the research also suggests that it may make sense for the spouse with the smaller benefit to go ahead and collect reduce benefits early as early sixty-two assuming he or she's not working because it brings some money into the household while the higher earning spouse is waiting til 70 so you have to look at married couples claiming decision as a household decision and not two independent claiming strategies yeah I think that's a great point you know and practically a lot of times we're going to need some influx of money from 66 to 70 it's going to be hard for most people to defer their benefits all the way out especially if they're not continuing to work right and it's going to be particularly important going forward where we have lost the ability to file and suspend to trigger a benefit for a spouse we will eventually lose the strategy of claiming spousal benefits only we know they are going to go away in the future but future retirees will still have the decision do I collect reduce benefits early do I wait to my full retirement age to get full benefits and until the earnings cap goes away or do I try to earn those delay retirement credits of 8% a year up until age 70 those are still very important decisions that aren't going to go away now let's change course just a little bit here we're going to take that spouse we're going to split up the family okay so they're split up now right we've gotten a divorce now can you tell me a little bit about that we do still we're still eligible for some benefits here and the law has been a little bit impacted here moving forward correct right the basic rule is if you are married at least 10 years you're divorced and you're currently single you can collect Social Security benefits just as if you're still married okay so now we have to layer on top the new rules going forward which says you must be 62 or older by the end of 2015 in order to be grandfathered under the rules that say if I wait for my full retirement age of 66 I can claim spousal benefits only on my ex and let my own benefits keep growing 8% a year and switch to my own at 70 so that will be a viable strategy until 2020 okay people who are younger than 62 at the end of 2015 will lose this option which I think will affect a lot of divorced spouses because this has been a real lifesaver for their retirement income strategies particularly if they were divorced later in life and didn't have adequate preparations I think this is going to have a big impact but those same divorced spouses may not realize that in addition to being entitled to spousal benefits if their ex spouse dies they are also entitled to survivor benefits worth a hundred percent of what their ex-spouse was either collecting or entitled to collect at time of death even if their ex pass is remarried this does not take away from the new families benefits but as the first qualified divorced spouse she is entitled to a hundred percent survivor benefits okay now you also run into the situation where we have multiple marriages Andry marriages and so you might get the person who was married once ten years gets divorced married a second time right and gets divorced a second time after ten years now there are now 2 X spouses that were they were married to for over 10 years how do we figure out what benefit we're entitled to they only get one benefit but they get the higher of the two let's say husband number one was a bigger earner right I married for 10 years I'm divorced I remarry I now lose the right to collect on my ex except now my second marriage has ended I now can collect again on either X and let's say it's husband number one doesn't have to be sequential I can if I am 62 by the end of 2015 when I get to 66 I can claim spousal benefits only on husband number one right and then let's say husband ex-husband number two dies a survivor benefit is worth a hundred percent yes spousal benefit is worth fifty percent at that point I could switch to survivor benefits on ex-husband number two and then let's say later X how it's been number one dies his survivor benefit is bigger I can switch to that bigger survivor benefit now is this something where somebody has to be proactive in any regards or social security going to handle the for someone well they're not going to come track you down mm-hmm particularly in a divorce situation you and you can't independently find out what your ex-spouses benefits are because that's a privacy issue you can't go onto and pretend to be your ex that's fraud not a good idea so what you need to do is contact Social Security with as much information as possible here I have my marriage certificate here is my divorce decree I need to prove there is at least 10 years between I do and I don't okay and once that has been established Social Security can then do the rest to figure out what were the benefit amounts of both of your ex-spouses and what will give you the bigger benefit they're very good at helping you figure out which is the bigger benefit okay so don't destroy all that documentation after you get divorced and remarried then right if documentation is crucial I think where it becomes challenging is when you completely lose track of a former spouse how do you know if they died yeah you know you have to be on top of that information because again Social Security is probably not going to track you down unless you're already receiving a spousal benefit okay and then if a death notice comes into the master death file then you'll automatically get a survivor benefit okay but if you aren't collecting at that point it's really up to you to make the contact to say my ex died what can I do okay yeah that's great information there and I think that's something probably a lot of people don't think about they're probably not paying attention to whether their ex spouse is alive anymore at age 80 right and because most people don't realize there is a social security benefit for qualified divorced spouses they're shocked to find this out and even more shocked to find out they're entitled to a survivor benefit so it is worth keeping tabs on your ex maybe that's the real reason we're all on Facebook yeah maybe well thank you so much again for all this information it's incredibly valuable to everyone watching and keep up all of the good work out there you're doing thank you I appreciate that and thank you for watching this video was made possible by the New York life center for retirement income

34 thoughts on “Social Security Spousal and Divorced Spousal Benefits

  • I won't be 62 for six years and hopefully I can keep working and paying in until I'm 67. My question is, if my ex starts collecting SS benefits when he turns 62 in two years and his benefits will be more than mine, even if I work until I'm 67 (since I stayed at home and took care of our kids for 10 years of our 34 year marriage) should I or could I file on SS spousal benefits at 62?

  • What about my 1st ex.husband die and he never get remarried to anyone but im still married with my 2nd i still can collect his retirement or whatsoever?this is only example my question

  • Ive been married 1st is 13yrs married 2nd i was married 10yrs and once my age 62 more than if i still alive i will prepare collect my 1st husband retirement benefits cuz he has a higher than my 1st husband was commercial Capt.pilot.compared my 2nd is A6 navy obviously my 1st husband has most higher.

  • If i was married for 13 years and wanted to collect off exes Social Security at 62 Iwill only get 35% of his Or do I have to wait till full retirement 66 and 8 months

  • I like how she's talking about the woman getting the better half of the man's s***

    Grady f**** who bags
    You never said guy taking the better half of a woman's Social Security
    That's right because they're probably already dead

  • Sad to think wife and I was married 15 years but now divorced over 25 years and she will benefit off that 25 divorced period because of the benefits of me working 25 years without her..

  • Excuse the hell out of me! 50% of the worker benefit? Give me a fucking break! I worked just as much as he did and he gets to collect MORE!? I paid in taxes just as much as he did, penny for penny! Fucking ripoff!


  • And the.mogarity of people pass away be for they even get the chance to enjoy their SSI with Disease and Death and if they have no spouse or children that SSI. BENEFIT what they earn SHOULD GO TO THEIR NEXT OF KIN So what the Gov is doing with PEOPLE hard earn SSI..

  • Would the benefit the spouse is going to get from her retired husband be deducted from his retirement benefit. Example the husband receives 1 thou. So the wife will receive 500.00. Will that 500.00 be deducted from the 1,000 the husband is receiving?

  • They should have the "60/60" rule, that is, you should be able to get 60% of your retirement benefits (compared to that at FRA = Full Retirement Age), at age 60. For example, if your FRA is age 67 and your amount at that age would be $1000 a month, you would have the option to instead collect $600 a month starting at age 60. I would prefer taking 60% at age 60 vs. 70% at age 62. That would be a 2 year head start.

  • 2:44. The lady clearly said age 62 by 2015 a few times then this jackass dude said age 62 by 2016. Pay attention dude!

  • 0:32 wrong statement. A spousal benefit is not automatically worth 50% of the workers benefit assuming the person getting the spousal benefit is at least FRA (Full Retirement Age). It would depend on when they started receiving spousal benefits. The lady went on to "correct" this in her next sentence but the original statement at 0:32 is badly worded and wrong.

  • Social security is responsible for the peaple who die do the keep the money our funeral is supposed to be pay in full

  • Can someone tell me how can I get the Social Security Administration investigated for charging me with an 80,000 overpayment. The SSA withheld my entire check for over ten which left me nothing to live on. How can the Social Security Administration Rob people out of their spousal benefits. Now the Social Security Administration has place an additional 26,000 on my husband and he is disable and in a wheelchair. The SSA taking $100 dollar a month from his disability Social Security check. Please Help.

  • You two are wonderful, thanks for the detailed information, especially Mary, you spoke well and very knowledgeable, you answered all my questions which I tried so much to get the answers and not really clear enough for details, thanks!

  • question – my ex filed for divorce after nine years, but then drug the divorce out for 3 more years. So the decree says filed for divorce at 9 years, divorce finalized at 12 years. Does she qualify for ex-spouse benefits. She developed severe mental illness, and worked infrequently, benefits on her work history will be small if any.

  • If a couple get married, and two weeks later the husband passes away. Is there a minimum length of time which deems said marriage legal and allows spouse survivor benifits. Or what if anything is she entitled to?

  • FYI – If the spouse trying to draw the "spousal benefit" has a pension? FORGET IT! You won't get anything from SS until at least 62. And that will be based off how many credits and income you've earned over your life.

  • I think that's bull crap about if you get divorced from your ex then you get remarried and you could claim from the first ex-husband that's bullshit you should only be able to claim from your current ex that's where all this money is being wasted it shouldn't be the highest order if you were good enough to stay with married someone should you years after you divorce the first ex And then Re married someone new ..that shouldn't be that should be your current parntner / or current ex ….the current X Partner only

  • I am 63 my ex wife is 55 she made far more than I did can I collect on her social security or does she have to also be retired and also taking social security at least at 62. Nobody at SS office could tell me anything other than I had to take SS disability on my earnings they said she had to be 62 retired and on SS which means I would have to wait 7 years to collect on her income as to SS this has been so confusing looking for correct answers

  • Ex spouses get all that and yet firefighters and teachers get screwed because of the GOP law!!! Ridiculous and cruel.

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