Going through a divorce can be overwhelming at any age. But for those who are in their retirement years, it can be an especially confusing and difficult time. The term “gray divorce” typically refers to couples who are going through a divorce after the age of 50. This type of divorce has its own set of unique factors that need to be considered by both people in the marriage. But what does gray divorce have to do with Social Security?

Who wants to hire a divorce lawyer and fight it out in court? 

Your best bet is trying to mediate your divorce.

Many people who are going through a gray divorce may not realize that there are certain benefits that they are able to collect. If you are entering your retirement years and going through a divorce in Massachusetts, your ex-spouse may be able to claim Social Security retirement benefits by using your work record. Here is a look at everything that you need to know about the various types of criteria that must be met.

Can You Access Your Former Spouse’s Social Security Benefits After a Gray Divorce?

If your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits, you may be able to claim a portion of those benefits if you meet certain criteria. 

First, you need to be at least 62 years old and unmarried. If your ex-spouse remarries, it will not affect your eligibility. However, as soon as you remarry, you will no longer be entitled to claim any portion of your ex’s Social Security benefits.

Secondly, you and your ex-spouse must be married for at least 10 years. If your divorce is finalized even a month before your 10th anniversary, you will not qualify. 

Finally, your ex must be entitled to receive a higher amount of Social Security benefits than you. If your work history entitles you to receive some Social Security benefits, you need to make sure that those benefits do not exceed the amount that your ex-spouse is entitled to based on their work history.

You’ll need to speak with a divorce lawyer to understand what you are entitled to.

Can You Collect Your Ex-Spouse’s Social Security Benefits if They Have Not Started Collecting Those Benefits Yet?

Possibly, yes. If both you and your ex meet the requirements to qualify for Social Security benefits, you may be able to collect benefits on their record even if they have not started to collect those benefits for themselves. However, you will have to wait at least two years after your divorce is finalized to receive benefits on their record if they have not applied for Social Security benefits yet.

How Much Money Am I Entitled to When I Claim Social Security Benefits on My Ex-Spouse’s Record?

This answer depends on several different factors including:

  • Your age
  • Your ex-spouse’s age
  • What year you were born

In order to receive the full amount of their Social Security retirement benefits, your ex-spouse must be at the full retirement age. If you are also at the full retirement age, you can collect up to one-half of their total Social Security benefit amount. 

Collecting Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record will not reduce the Social Security benefits to which they are entitled.

For the most part, people usually reach the full age of retirement at around 66 years old. However, the year that you were born can affect that number. If you are unsure whether or not you have reached the full age of retirement, you can check the retirement benefits age chart.

Can More Than One Person Use My Ex-Spouse’s Work Record to Claim Social Security Benefits?

If your ex-spouse has another ex-spouse who is also trying to claim benefits using your ex’s record, it should not affect your eligibility at all. If your ex-spouse gets remarried and divorced and that person wants to also claim Social Security benefits by using your ex-spouse’s record, they can do that without it affecting you. As long as you meet the requirements to collect benefits, you can do so. It doesn’t matter how many people are also trying to claim those same benefits.

Can I Still Claim Social Security Benefits if My Ex-Spouse is Deceased?

Yes, if your ex-spouse is no longer living, you may be eligible to receive 100% of their Social Security benefits. This is known as “death benefits.”

People who would like to receive death benefits may do so if they remarry. However, they must wait until after they reach the age of 60 to remarry or they will no longer qualify to receive the benefits.

How to Apply for Social Security Benefits Using Your Ex-Spouse’s Record

If you would like to apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits, you can go to your local Social Security office or you can fill out an online application. The application takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete and you will need to be able to provide proof of certain information including your age, your citizenship status, and your marriage certificate. In order to apply, you need to be 62 years or older, or you need to be no more than three months away from your 62nd birthday. 

A Massachusetts Gray Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you are considering a gray divorce, you should contact a Massachusetts divorce attorney. They will be able to advise you on the proper steps that need to be taken in order to find the most amicable and fair solution for you and your spouse. 

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