Social Security Benefits and Divorce

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Mr. Darren M. Shapiro - an experienced family law attorney working throughout Long Island and New York - has frequently found that divorce represents several unique issues to each individual couple. After all, while many divorces will cover some of the same topics - like the existence or absence of maintenance or spousal support, and methods for protecting each client from financial problems - every spouse will have specific concerns to think about when preparing for the future. In specific cases - particularly those of senior divorce - one aspect that spouses may need to consider is their social security benefits. As Mr. Shapiro frequently reminds his clients – unlike maintenance or spousal and child support - which can be discussed in a number of different ways - from collaborative law to mediation, social security benefits cannot be argued, or negotiated. Instead, social security is something that is controlled by the federal social security law.

While your options regarding social security, benefits may be limited during a divorce - that doesn't mean that it isn't beneficial to get a better understanding of what your financial situation may be - considering your current and future resources. As the social security administration has commented on their website - in most situations, spouses that were married for longer than ten years who undergo divorce may qualify for benefits that are equal to (a maximum of) 50% of their former spouse's benefit amount. However, there are certain stipulations that must be met for this benefit to apply. For instance, you will need to be aged 62 or over, unmarried, and you will also need to ensure that your ex-spouse is entitled to either social security, or disability benefits. What's more - in order to receive a portion of their ex-spouse's social security payments - they will need to ensure that the benefit they are entitled to is less than the benefit they would receive through their ex-spouse.

Social security benefits cannot be discussed in the same manner as financial solutions like asset distribution and spousal support. These benefits aren't something that are awarded by the New York Courts - but they are instead regulated by the federal social security agency. One spouse does not have to file for social security benefits for their ex-spouse to receive a benefit from their record, but that spouse will need to be eligible for those benefits. Additionally, for a spouse to receive benefits from their ex-spouse when that spouse has not applied for their own benefits, the couple will need to have been divorced for at least two years. What's more, Mr. Shapiro reminds his clients that if an ex-spouse claims their social security benefits in accordance with their spouse's work record - that spouse should not find that their benefits are reduced or changed in any way.

Crucially, people who decide to remarry following a divorce won't be allowed to request social security benefits from their former spouse's record until the new marriage ends by divorce, death, or annulment. However, once that second marriage ends, a client may be able to claim social security benefits from either spouse's record so long as each marriage lasted for ten years or longer.

During his time working with divorce clients in a range of different scenarios, Mr. Darren Shapiro has found that most spouses are eager to know exactly how much they can receive from their ex spouse's benefit. Unfortunately, it's difficult to give an exact number without assessing the unique nuances of each case in depth. While the amount that most spouses’ get during a divorce is equal to (at most) half of what their spouse would receive at their full retirement age - the benefits can change for a range of reasons. For instance, the benefits that you are given will not include any delayed credits for retirement, and if you choose to receive your benefit amount before you have reached the full retirement age, then your benefit will be reduced. Since the age for full retirement has been increasing gradually - it may be worth double-checking your full retirement age at the SSA.gov website before you start planning your social security payment needs.

Someone that was born on or before the 1st of January, 1954, who chooses to wait until their full age of retirement before filing for benefits, will have different options available to them than those who were born after January 2nd 1954. Individuals born before the first of January 1954 will be able to file restricted applications that ensures that they will only receive the ex-spousal benefit that they are eligible for, while their own benefit amount continues to accumulate interest in the form of delayed retirement credits. This means that when that spouse reaches the age of seventy, they'll have a higher benefit that they can switch to.

One final thing that Mr. Shapiro encourages his clients to keep in mind when considering social security benefits during divorce - is that they don't need to know the full earning history of a spouse - or their current whereabouts to apply for financial assistance. Rather, the Social Security Administration has the power to track down all necessary records so long as proof of marriage can be provided - and that proof indicates that the marriage lasted for a minimum of ten years.

For more information about the various unique concerns that you might need to think about during a divorce procedure - either in senior divorce or otherwise, contact Mr. Darren M. Shapiro. His passionate and professional guidance is open to anyone with family law needs. Get in touch via phone at 516-333-6555, or through our online contact form. Couples considering mediation are also welcome to schedule a free, initial half-hour appointment, while individuals seeking to hire an attorney may schedule their free half hour consultation alone.

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