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Divorce and Social Security
Old 03-02-2016, 11:13 AM   #1
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Divorce and Social Security

I am posting this for a co-worker. She's 58 and planning for retirement. She's divorced with one child, a senior in high school. She was married for more then 10 years and she has been divorced for several years. He is two years older then she is.

We know she is entitled to file on her ex-husbands social security. But, have not been able to find where to confirm this and determine her options. The question is, would she be able to file on his account at 62? Then, at FRA or later, switch over to her account without impacting amounts?

Her ex made significantly less then she did.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:20 AM   #2
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The question is, would she be able to file on his account at 62? Then, at FRA or later, switch over to her account without impacting amounts?
Yes she can file for spousal benefits at 62, provided her ex-spouse has started SS payments at that time. I believe that when she files she has to file for everything she is entitled to (the so-called "deeming" issue). Therefore (under the new rules) she must pick the greater of her spousal benefit or her own record. At age 62 her (own or spousal) benefit will be reduced by about a third over what she would get at full retirement age.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
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Ok, it sounds like it would impact her own account and it would not continue to grow until FRA. Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:51 AM   #4
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Ok, it sounds like it would impact her own account and it would not continue to grow until FRA. Thanks!
I think this is correct.

I got my divorced spousal benefits at age 66 in 2013, and I think I squeezed in just "under the wire" before the new law so that my own SS benefits will continue growing until age 70. At the time I applied, you had to wait until FRA to apply if you wanted to keep your own benefits growing until age 70. Otherwise, if you applied at age 62-66 your own benefits would not continue to grow.

But the new law passed a year or so ago, changed all that and I think your own benefits always stop growing now after you apply for divorced spousal benefits, at any age. I am hoping that I am "grandfathered in", so to speak.

I didn't have to know whether my ex had actually applied for SS or not (I had no idea). He was eligible to do so. A divorced spouse has no way of knowing if the other divorced spouse claimed divorced spousal SS.

To me the divorced spousal SS information seems SO complex. I hesitated to post anything about it at all but then thought I should since I am on divorced spousal SS right now.

Here's a webpage at SS although I don't know if it is up to date.

https://www.socialsecurity.gov/plann...divspouse.html
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:08 PM   #5
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I recommend she not do anything before she reads "Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security", by Laurence Kotlikoff, et al. The order in which she claims SS could cost her a lifetime in additional benefits left on the table. I'm just about finished with the book, thought I was well-versed in SS, but discovered many things I did not know. Kotlikoff does an excellent job of deconstructing SS rules, all in very plain language. In fact, I recommend the book to everyone as it contains little known/understood strategies for maximizing SS:

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your.../dp/1476772290
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:10 PM   #6
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I recommend she not do anything before she reads "Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security", by Laurence Kotlikoff, et al. The order in which she claims SS could cost her a lifetime in additional benefits left on the table. I'm just about finished with the book, thought I was well-versed in SS, but discovered many things I did not know. Kotlikoff does an excellent job of deconstructing SS rules, all in very plain language. In fact, I recommend the book to everyone as it contains little known/understood strategies for maximizing SS:

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your.../dp/1476772290
Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:23 PM   #7
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Forgot to mention, contrary to what you might think with a topic such as SS and its complexities, the book is a very easy read.
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:32 PM   #8
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Just to throw in another wrinkle in this discussion....

Say she does not file for her benefit until she reaches 70.... but that her SS amount will be less than her ex's benefits... when he dies, she can then file for survivor's benefits and get a bump in her SS... so you really do have to keep track of your ex....
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:36 PM   #9
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In fact, I recommend the book to everyone as it contains little known/understood strategies for maximizing SS:

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your.../dp/1476772290
I got the book at the library so before buying you might want to check yours before buying it. Also check his web site because the laws changed after publication. I read somewhere his web site will have the current changes and what they were.
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:16 PM   #10
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Just to throw in another wrinkle in this discussion....

Say she does not file for her benefit until she reaches 70.... but that her SS amount will be less than her ex's benefits... when he dies, she can then file for survivor's benefits and get a bump in her SS... so you really do have to keep track of your ex....
If I understand what you posted, I don't believe it to be correct. The survivors benefit maxes out at FRA for the survivor. However if the ex-spouse took SS after FRA then his benefit would be greater (up to 70 years old). If the OP delays after FRA then there will be no increase based on the OP's age - only on the age of the ex-spouse when they started SS.

That's the way I understand it, please enlighten me if I am confused.
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:25 PM   #11
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I got the book at the library so before buying you might want to check yours before buying it. Also check his web site because the laws changed after publication. I read somewhere his web site will have the current changes and what they were.
I have been passing this information along. She mentioned the law changes and waiting for the book to be updated. She does have several years before she can apply.
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:00 PM   #12
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She might want to try this calculator. SSAnalyze - Bedrock Capital Management

It has been updated for the change in law.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:14 PM   #13
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If I understand what you posted, I don't believe it to be correct. The survivors benefit maxes out at FRA for the survivor. However if the ex-spouse took SS after FRA then his benefit would be greater (up to 70 years old). If the OP delays after FRA then there will be no increase based on the OP's age - only on the age of the ex-spouse when they started SS.

That's the way I understand it, please enlighten me if I am confused.

I guess you are being confused... I will give some details to explain...

One of my sisters was a teacher.... she was married to someone when she was young for 11 years.... DH1

She got married again to DH2... When she retired she got spousal benefits from DH2... she asked about spousal benefits from DH1 since his record is much higher than DH2... was told she did not qualify for DH1 since she was still married to DH2 (but wait)

When DH2 passed, she lost his earnings, but got the survivor amount...

Now the wrinkle.... she can get the survivor (widow) amount from either DH1 or DH2 as long as they are dead.... since DH1 is still alive, she gets DH2s payment, but whenever DH1 passes, she will be able to request an increase in her benefits...

Does this make it any clearer?

PS... she was told this by at least 2 people who work at SS...



Now, I think if DH1 made more than twice DH2, she could apply for spousal benefits on his record and get a bump up right now.... but 1/2 of his is less than a full one from DH2....
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:18 AM   #14
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I recommend she not do anything before she reads "Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security", by Laurence Kotlikoff, et al. The order in which she claims SS could cost her a lifetime in additional benefits left on the table. I'm just about finished with the book, thought I was well-versed in SS, but discovered many things I did not know. Kotlikoff does an excellent job of deconstructing SS rules, all in very plain language. In fact, I recommend the book to everyone as it contains little known/understood strategies for maximizing SS:

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your.../dp/1476772290
I may be mistaken, but didn't the law change get voted on around Sept 2015 or there about? The book came out Feb 2015, would this book have the most recent information? The new law takes effect May 1st 2016 (I believe).

I agree that anyone considering filing for SS should understand the rules at the present time.
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:46 AM   #15
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TexasProud: What I posted is correct, The survivors benefit maxes at FRA of the survivor. The survivor payment (of course) is subject to the SS payment of the spouse when they pass. Had the survivor started survivor benefits before FRA then the survivor benefit will be reduced.

You described something else - namely being able to switch to a higher ex-spouse survivor payment per the SS rules. had your sister started payments later than her FRA her payment would be the same with the same bump when the second spouse dies.
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:47 PM   #16
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TexasProud: What I posted is correct, The survivors benefit maxes at FRA of the survivor. The survivor payment (of course) is subject to the SS payment of the spouse when they pass. Had the survivor started survivor benefits before FRA then the survivor benefit will be reduced.

You described something else - namely being able to switch to a higher ex-spouse survivor payment per the SS rules. had your sister started payments later than her FRA her payment would be the same with the same bump when the second spouse dies.

So, if I am reading your post correctly (and I could be way off), you are saying that if she took a reduced benefit from DH2, then when she changes to DH1 after his passing she still will have a reduced benefit...


If so, then I have not problem with that.... she still will get a much higher benefit... I do not know when she started, but since there is nothing that can be done whatever she did it is mute...
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Old 09-18-2016, 09:09 PM   #17
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All the google info on this seems to assume nobody ever divorces more than once. My ex and I divorced after 13 years. She remarried and was married to husband 2 for more than 10 years. She just divorced husband 2. She is now 65. Let's assume she hasn't filed for ss yet. Can she choose between husband 1 (me) and husband 2, to file on the most lucrative of the 2 earnings records? Her own earnings were not very large so I am assuming she would not file using her own earnings.
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Divorce and Social Security
Old 09-18-2016, 09:17 PM   #18
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Divorce and Social Security

Since she's under FRA, the claims processor would take her retirement application, and divorced spouses applications from ex1 and ex2. She would be receiving benefits from her own record, and would receive div-spouse benefits from the higher of ex1 and ex2. Whichever ex had the lower amount she would remain "technically entitled" but not receive any $$$ from the lower ex.

Also it depends if ex2 has filed already, and for exactly how many years she and ex2 have been divorced. It's a little tricky.

I should also make it as clear as possible, an ex-spouse has absolutely no effect on your benefit, your current spouses benefit, and any other benefits driven from your SSN.


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Old 09-18-2016, 10:18 PM   #19
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Thanks.
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Old 09-18-2016, 10:51 PM   #20
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All the google info on this seems to assume nobody ever divorces more than once. My ex and I divorced after 13 years. She remarried and was married to husband 2 for more than 10 years. She just divorced husband 2. She is now 65. Let's assume she hasn't filed for ss yet. Can she choose between husband 1 (me) and husband 2, to file on the most lucrative of the 2 earnings records? Her own earnings were not very large so I am assuming she would not file using her own earnings.
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Since she's under FRA, the claims processor would take her retirement application, and divorced spouses applications from ex1 and ex2. She would be receiving benefits from her own record, and would receive div-spouse benefits from the higher of ex1 and ex2. Whichever ex had the lower amount she would remain "technically entitled" but not receive any $$$ from the lower ex.

Also it depends if ex2 has filed already, and for exactly how many years she and ex2 have been divorced. It's a little tricky.

I should also make it as clear as possible, an ex-spouse has absolutely no effect on your benefit, your current spouses benefit, and any other benefits driven from your SSN.


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Also be aware that this also extends to widow/widower benefits....

My oldest sister was married to two people for more than 10 years... first was 11 years and second 30+.... she was still married when 2nd husband died... so she is getting widow benefits on his record... which is not great...

But, whenever her 1st husband dies, her benefits will go up since he had a much better earning record... she does not wish him any ill will, but when he goes she will have no problem asking for the better benefits...
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