Did you know that your parent (likely your mom or grandmother given the earning gap between genders in the 1950s and 1960s) may be receiving less social security than she is entitled to? Under the social security laws, a divorced spouse can receive social security based on her own income during her working years or choose to receive half of her spouse’s benefit.
The basic social security rule is that a person can collect Social Security benefits based on her own earnings history, or 50% of her spouse or former spouse’s benefit, if it is greater than her own, and 100% if he is deceased. Many people do not know that in cases of divorced or widowed couples who were married at least ten years, the lower earning spouse can elect to take her own social security or half of her former husband’s (the full amount of his if he is deceased). The social security benefit claims process does not even require notifying the former spouse and does not affect their benefit at all.
Social security is, for many, a key part of the elder care planning process. By adding, in some cases, as much as $1,100 if the former spouse is still alive and the social security maximum payment of $2,366 per month if the former spouse is deceased can add major income and relieve some of the stress in the planning process.
You might be eligible for a bigger Social Security benefit based on a former spouse’s earnings record if the marriage lasted at least 10 years, and:
– You are at least 62 years old and unmarried and your former spouse is currently collecting benefits.
– You have been divorced at least two years, your former spouse isn’t collecting benefits and you are both over 62.
– You are over 60 and your former spouse has died.
– Your spouse or former spouse delayed taking Social Security until after his full retirement age.
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