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Can your ex-spouse take your Social Security benefits?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2021 | Divorce

Gray divorce, which is becoming increasingly common in Texas, is a divorce between older couples whose marriages have typically lasted many years. It’s fair to wonder whether your former spouse might be able to take your Social Security benefits after your divorce.

What to know about sharing Social Security benefits

After you have gotten a divorce, your ex-spouse cannot take your Social Security benefits. Social Security comes from the money you have paid into the fund for all the years that you have worked. The benefits you eventually receive will depend on how much you paid. You receive your benefits from the fund, which means your former spouse cannot easily access them.

However, depending on the length of your marriage, your ex might be able to claim benefits based on your working history and not their own. Usually, this happens when your former spouse has contributed less to their own Social Security. It doesn’t affect the benefits you receive.

How does Social Security work?

Social Security works by accumulating financial contributions from people in the workforce into a fund. Once a person is eligible to claim benefits, they can receive them. You cannot get benefits from Social Security until you turn 62 years old. If you go through a divorce and your spouse needs to claim benefits from your Social Security, you must both wait until you reach the age of 62.

If your ex-spouse claims benefits from your Social Security, the most they can receive is 50% of your benefit amount. They can only claim those benefits once they reach the age of retirement. Claiming early means that they’ll receive a smaller percentage.

It only benefits a person to claim benefits on a former spouse’s Social Security record if they earned less than their ex. An ex-spouse doesn’t need your permission to get benefits from your Social Security and can even collect after your death.

While you might want to prevent your ex from getting Social Security benefits from your work history, their claim actually won’t involve you. The amount they receive doesn’t affect the amount you’ll receive.