Understanding the Effect of Divorce on Social Security Benefits

New York residents who are seeking a divorce but rely on retirement benefits may be interested in how the end of the marriage affects Social Security. Depending on several factors, including remarriage, the effect can be quite large.

Social Security benefits are a large part of many people's financial lives and something that people often depend on. However, with the complex rules surrounding these benefits, it can be easy to misunderstand how divorce and remarriage can affect Social Security. For those who do not have sufficient work history to obtain their own Social Security benefits, they may be dependent on a spouse's benefit.

If the couple divorces, whether or not the spouse without benefits can still receive them from their ex depends on how long they were married. If the marriage lasted less than a decade, the spouse will lose the benefits that they had gained from their ex. However, with marriages spanning 10 years or more, the spouse may still share in their ex's benefits. The same rule applies to survivor benefits, with a limited exception for those caring for younger or disabled children.

When a divorced spouse relying on their ex's Social Security benefits gets remarried, this generally causes them to lose those benefits. Instead, they will now take advantage of their new spouse's benefits, though this does not begin until after the first year of the remarriage. A remarriage after the age of 60 allows the person to retain survivor benefits from their ex-spouse, but not for those under 60.

Understanding what happens in the aftermath of a contested divorce can be difficult without an attorney. The attorney may be able to help negotiate and draft a divorce settlement that can provide for a spouse fairly after the divorce.