Social Security Benefits and Divorce

Posted on July 28th, 2009, by James Livesay in Divorce. Comments Off on Social Security Benefits and Divorce

Where a couple was married 10 or more years and then divorce, each party will be paid the greater of his/her own Social Security benefit or a spousal benefit. Spousal benefits generally are equal to 50% of the primary wage earner’s benefit. The gender of the spouse is irrelevant, although historically this has had a greater impact on ex-wives.

It is important to understand that there is no impact on the primary wage earner’s benefit. If an ex-wife chooses spousal benefits based on her marriage to a former husband, it will not reduce the amount the ex-husband receives in Social Security.

For an example: assume Suzy and John are married over 10 years, then divorce. Suzy then marries Edward, stays married to him for over 10 years, then divorces Edward as well.

At retirement, Suzy will be entitled to choose the greatest of 3 benefits: her own Social Security benefit, spousal benefits from her marriage to John, or spousal benefits from her marriage to Edward.

No matter which she chooses, John and Edward will not be affected.

Widowed ex-spouses can get widow’s benefits if they were married 10 or more years and have not remarried by age 60. If the widowed ex-spouse chooses to start the benefits before age 65, he/she must accept a lifetime reduced benefit.

To discuss further the treatment of Social Security in Virginia divorce cases, or any other separation or divorce issues in Virginia, contact us to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney today. Our divorce lawyers represent clients in separation and divorce cases throughout Woodbridge, Manassas, Stafford, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Attorney James Livesay is a Partner at Livesay & Myers. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1998, he began his legal career in the Navy JAG Corps, before entering private practice as a Virginia family lawyer in 2001. Along with partner Kevin Myers, Mr. Livesay founded Livesay & Myers in 2003. Today he advises the attorneys in each of the firm’s five offices.

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