Let’s open up today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, by going through a hypothetical situation that could be relevant in your situation. After we go through the hypothetical, we will highlight specific portions of that example and discuss the relevant issues.
Suppose that you and your spouse are both disabled people living in the great State of Texas. You began to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) when you turned 34. You were married when you began to collect SSDI but have subsequently divorced and remarried, as has your ex-spouse.
You have been married to your current husband for twelve years but were not married when your spouse began to collect SDDI benefits. Your husband will turn 66 years old next year, while you will turn 66 years old the year after next. When these ages are reached, your SSDI benefits will be converted into regular Social Security retirement income. You and your spouse collect benefits based on your work histories and not on each other. Your spouse worked longer than you did and has bets from a pension coming in every month. Your income is limited to your SSDI payments.
Unfortunately, you and your spouse have been having marital issues of late. You’ve sought counseling and other therapies, but nothing has done the trick as far as actually getting back to where you want your marriage to be. You’ve researched hiring a family law attorney to begin the divorce process but don’t know where to begin when it comes to Social Security, however.
What would happen now if you or your spouse were to pass away? Would that affect your abilities to receive an equal or more significant amount of benefits in any way?
Divorce can work to your advantage if you are receiving SSDI benefits.
If you and your spouse get divorced at least two years before you turn 66, you would both be eligible to receive full spousal benefits under the Social Security laws in our country. Social Security will automatically treat you and your ex-spouse as having filed for your retirement benefits at age 62, not at age 66. This is true if you and your spouse were married for at least ten years, which in the above example is valid.
This is a great benefit to you and your spouse if you chose to get divorced some time ago, but that opportunity has passed you up. I don’t mean to write about divorce like it’s a business decision. However, if you remove children from the equation, a divorce essentially is a business-type discussion where you have to leverage the strong points of your case against the weak points of your spouse’s case and vice versa. The timing issue associated with when you should file for divorce and when you can receive benefits is one issue that you should be aware of.
The bottom line is that if your divorce timing allows for it, you can receive many benefits from the Social Security system. However, this setting will not allow us to discuss the topic in full. Please consult with an experienced family law attorney (such as those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan) to learn more about this critical topic.
A second hypothetical question for you to ponder regarding Social Security benefits and divorce
Let’s say that you have dual citizenship in the United States and France. You are married to an American citizen living in France while you live in Texas. You are filing for a divorce against him here in Texas. You are in your sixties and have a question regarding whether or not you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits.
To get divorced spousal benefits, you would need to have been divorced from your spouse for at least two years, as outlined in the example above. Next, you would need to have married your spouse for at least ten years.
A crucial issue that you may be facing because your spouse no longer lives in the USA (and may not be working) is that your spouse needs to have built up a certain amount of work “credits” by paying into the social security system through his taxes. These credits cannot be built up abroad and must have been earned while living and working in the United States. This is a critical issue that you would need to check in on.
Next, your spouse must be over 62 when you file for the divorced spouse benefits. The last qualification you need to be aware of is that your full retirement benefit cannot be greater than his, or you have to wait until you reach your “full” retirement age to collect your benefits. If this does not suit you, you can wait until you turn 70 to collect your retirement benefits to maximize what you stand to receive from the government.
Social Security, Gray Divorce collide in this blog post.
In the short span of today’s blog post, we have covered subject matter that crosses many boundaries in terms of divorce-related information. Suppose you are in your sixties and are considering a divorce. In that case, you may be under the impression that your divorce will be more uncomplicated and straightforward because you are in a financially stable position and have only adult children. This is not always the case, however.
We have just covered a wide range of topics that cover social security law and other considerations that can dramatically impact your future finances. If you do not approach them with wisdom and knowledge in your divorce, you could be left with regret once your divorce has concluded. Did you negotiate well enough to receive a “fair” portion of your community estate? Suppose you find yourself in circumstances that are not favorable to you receiving social security benefits based on your or your spouse’s work history. In that case, you may need to fight that much harder for a more significant chunk of your community estate.
That, plus the issues that we covered at the outset of today’s blog post regarding disability benefits, means that you have a significant number of potential issues to encounter in your Gray divorce. If you and your spouse are not on the best of terms and you are not all that knowledgeable about these areas of the law or even where to begin learning about them, I recommend that you meet with a few family law attorneys to learn the lay of the land here in Texas. It could mean a great deal of difference in your divorce should you decide to do so.
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Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.