Supplemental SS payments from an ex

Sep 14, 2020

If you are a Kentucky resident going through a divorce, you may want to speak to your attorney about whether you are entitled to any of your ex-spouse’s employment benefits. Most assets acquired during marriage must be split fairly, but it can be tricky to do that with retirement accounts or Social Security benefits that began accruing before the marriage started.

Rules for sharing Social Security benefits

In order for one ex-spouse to receive SS benefits from the other, the parties must have been married for at least 10 years. The party seeking benefits cannot withdraw benefits if he or she is currently married, and he or she must wait until the other person begins making withdrawals unless the divorce has been final for at least two years. Additionally, an individual whose benefits are less than their ex-spouse’s will not be required to share any portion of his or her benefits.

Other considerations when seeking SS benefits

No one can start withdrawing SS payments before the age of 62, but it is better to wait until full retirement age, which is 66 or 67 depending on date of birth, to start pulling them out. Someone who receives payments before their full retirement age will only get a fraction of the available benefits.

Amount of SS benefits

The maximum amount of a person’s benefits that can be claimed by an ex-spouse is 50%. If you are entitled to benefits, you will get the total amount of your portion of your ex’s benefits; you cannot receive both your full benefits and your ex’s full benefits. As an example, if your monthly benefit is $500 per month and your ex’s is $1,200 per month, you are entitled to 50% of your ex’s benefits. You will receive your own $500 payment first and then another $100 from your ex’s benefits to get to a total of $600.

If you and your spouse are able to reach a divorce settlement, you should be careful that you do not agree to waive any rights to benefits. It may be a good idea to consult with a family law attorney for help with any settlement or negotiations.