In Ohio and elsewhere, a divorce may lead to Social Security consequences. A person may be entitled to collect Social Security benefits from the other spouse, or based on the work record of the other, in the aftermath of a divorce. There are a set of rules that must be met for a person to qualify.
Some of the highlights of the qualifications are:
- The couple must have been married for at least 10 years.
- The other spouse must be eligible for benefits, whether receiving them or not.
- The individual who seeks the benefits must be unmarried and at least 62 years old.
- If the seeking spouse has benefits, they must be lower than those of the ex-spouse.
It is important for the parties to a divorce to become aware of this rule if they are approaching the 10-year mark of if they have reached it. The other factors must then be looked at to determine if he or she qualifies. Since these benefits are earmarked by federal law, they should not normally be considered as a part of a negotiable divorce package. That is particularly true because the spouse whose account is tapped to compute the additional benefits does not lose any of his or her benefits in the process.
Equally important to many divorce clients in Ohio and elsewhere is the fact that an ex-spouse does not have to go through the other spouse to claim these benefits. The Social Security Administration will not contact the other ex-spouse, so that the process is independent of such contact. Thus, the benefits can be claimed after the divorce occurs without making it a part of the divorce negotiations. However, beware that where the parties have been married for nine years, and a divorce is in the process, the spouse with lower benefits may lose the right to claim additional benefits if the marriage does not last for 10 years.
Source: ksl.com, "What you should know about Social Security and divorce", Flint Stephens, Dec. 9, 2014