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 issues that are relevant to them.
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 years old. You were married at the time 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 at the time 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 are collecting benefits based on your own work histories and not on each other’s. Your spouse worked longer than you did and has bets from a pension coming in on a monthly basis. 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 done research about 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 happens now if you or your spouse were to pass away? Would that affect in any way your abilities to receive an equal or greater amount of benefits?
Divorce can actually work to your advantage if you are receiving SSDI benefits
In the event that 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 true.
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 a divorce like it’s a business decision. However, if you remove children from the equation a divorce largely 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 such issue that you should be aware of.
The bottom line is if your divorce timing allows for it you can receive a great deal of benefit from the Social Security system. This setting will not allow for us to discuss the topic in full, however. Please consult with an experienced family law attorney (such as those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan) in order to learn more about this important topic.
A second hypothetical question for you to ponder in regard to 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 who is 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 we laid out in the example above. Next, you would need to have been married to your spouse for at least ten years.
A crucial issue that you may be facing considering the fact that 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 the age of 62 when you file for the divorced spouse benefits. The last qualification that you need to be aware fo is that your own 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 can wait until you turn 70 to collect your own retirement benefits in order 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. If you are in your sixties and are considering a divorce you may be under the impression that because you are in a financially stable position and have only adult children that your divorce will be simpler and more straightforward. 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 have a dramatic impact on 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? If you find yourself in circumstances that are not favorable to you receiving social security benefits based on your or your spouse’s work history then you may need to fight that much harder for a larger 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 great 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.
Questions about divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are a great resource to check in with as you begin your search for a family law attorney to represent you in a divorce. Our attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week at no charge or cost to you. We welcome members of our community to come in and ask us questions that have been on your mind regarding any issue in family law, divorces in particular. We would be honored to meet with you and to discuss how our office can help you and your family in this difficult time.