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How Social Security benefits factor into divorce


It usually feels like there are a hundred tiny little details to think about during divorce. For example, property division is much more than one process to think about. People in Texas really have to think about the financial implications of certain assets, like the costs of maintaining homes and vehicles. Retirement accounts are another thing that require close attention during divorce, but some people do not have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

Consider someone who, for whatever reason, is not eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on his or her own work history. Sure, this individual will probably have at least some of the marital retirement savings to fall back on, but it may not be enough. Social Security benefits could be the key to making up any lost wealth during divorce. For some, it is as simple as claiming benefits based on their ex-spouse’s benefits.

So long as a couple was married for 10 years or longer, one person can collect benefits based on the other’s work history. Those benefits can equal as much as 50% of what the ex-spouse is entitled to receive. That person can still claim Social Security benefits based on the ex’s work history even if he or she worked and is also eligible for benefits. The Social Security Administration will pay those benefits first, and then any benefits related to an ex-spouse’s work history. 

There is no doubt that Social Security benefits help create a more financially stable retirement. However, these benefits are rarely — if ever — enough to fully support someone. This means that anyone in Texas who is close to retirement and is also going through a divorce has to really think about the decisions he or she makes. Certain assets are not worth keeping and some decisions can even have directly negative consequences, so getting some help during this time could be a good idea.

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